Tim Waterstone, founder of the eponymous book chain, is returning to bookselling with the launch of a new online service at next week’s London Book Fair.

Read Petite will offer users unlimited access to a library of short-form ebooks, of 9,000 words or less, for a monthly subscription of “a few pounds”.

Waterstone, who will be non-executive chairman of the venture, is launching the service with Neill Denny, former Bookseller editor and a former editor of Retail Week. Speaking to The Guardian, the pair said it would not be a literary equivalent of music-streaming service Spotify because content would be “curated” to ensure high standards.

Authors will have to have appeared in print first, and have been brought to Read Petite by a publisher. Waterstone told the Guardian: “The individual short story, or whatever it is, may not have been published, but the author will be an established, published writer. The whole point is to avoid a slush-pile of material. What we’ll guarantee is quality writing.”

Read Petite, inspired by the 1957 Jackie Wilson classic Reet Petite, will focus on short-form content as the founders believe e-readers have increased people’s appetite for short-form writing. The service will also serialise new work from established authors and they also plan to publish journalism.

Speaking about the chain he founded in 1982, Waterstone said it is now back in “proper ownership” since its sale to Russian oligarch Alexander Mamut, who Waterstone also has a bookselling venture with in Moscow. It was previously owned by HMV, the music retailer that was rescued from administration last weekend.