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Borders launches its own Kobo-powered e-book store

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Borders has been rather marginalized in the e-book wars thus far, not having the primacy of Amazon nor the sexy Nookiness of B&N. I liked their official e-reader, the Kobo, but until my opinion counts for points in the market, that doesn’t really improve their position. As promised, Borders is at last rolling out their e-book store today; it’s “powered by Kobo,” which I believe translates to “is Kobo with a layer of paint on top.” The selection should be the same as the existing Kobobooks site, but Borders has their own look and is launching its own versions of the Kobo e-book app (now available for iPhone, Blackberry, and Android).

What will come of this? Well, competition is good, right? I say bring it on. John thinks the Kindle has already won, but Barnes & Noble is optimistic, and Borders isn’t looking for higher than 17% of the e-book market. Can’t they all just get along?

One thing to note: it’s Kobo-powered, but it’s not actually Kobo. If you have books you bought from Kobobooks, they won’t transfer to Borders. Query: if the selection is the same, and the apps are the same, why not just go to Kobo in the first place? I’m guessing Borders will have special pricing and promotions as well as some in-store promotions.

Here’s what it looks like — or you could just go to the site itself and see it live.

Here’s the full press release:

Borders Opens eBook Store with Goal to Secure 17
percent eBook Market Share
Company Also Introduces BlackBerry® and Android™ Applications Following Recent iPhone
and iPad Releases
ANN ARBOR, Mich., July 7, 2010—Borders Group, Inc. (NYSE: BGP) today announced
the launch of the Borders branded eBook store, powered by global eReading service Kobo™.
Borders’ goal is to secure a 17 percent share of the eBook market by July 2011.
Borders’ eBook store launches with more than 1.5 million titles, including thousands of free
titles, available in a variety of formats, including ePub, mobile and PDF. The store launch follows
the successful introduction of the Borders iPhone and iPad apps, powered by Kobo, as well as
the introduction of the Kobo eReader and Aluratek Libre eReader on Borders.com. Both devices,
which are value-priced at under $150, have surpassed sales expectations.
To provide additional value around its digital offerings, the retailer will offer its Borders
Rewards® loyalty program members benefits ranging from special gift cards and free shipping on
certain items, to exclusive offers on popular digital series, double Borders Bucks™ incentives on
the purchase of eReaders, as well as other valuable offers. More than 38 million members have
signed up for the Rewards program since it launched in 2006.
“The race to emerge as a retail leader within the digital category is just starting,” said Mike
Edwards, Chief Executive Officer for Borders, Inc. “During the past several months, we’ve been
carefully crafting a digital strategy, one that has great content and a device neutral philosophy
backed by the Borders brand as its cornerstones. We believe we are very well positioned to come
out strong and to ultimately claim about a 17 percent eBook market share by this time next year.”
Borders’ Consumer Research
According to Borders’ consumer research, convenience, choice, content and quality hardware
rank at the top of the attributes readers look for in an ideal digital bookstore experience. The
launch of the company’s eBook store will be complemented by its strong in-store digital presence
through its upcoming Area-e sections, where customers will be able to try out a number of
eReading devices before making a purchase. Area-e sections, which will be in virtually all
Borders stores by early September, will be staffed by knowledgeable associates, who will demo
products and answer customers’ questions.
Research further shows that eReaders priced below $200 are likely to be the most gifted items
this holiday season. The Kobo eReader ($149), which also comes with 100 free titles, and the
Libre eBook Reader Pro ($119), both of which are priced to fit most budgets, position Borders
for strong consumer adoption and market penetration. The Kobo eReader is currently available in
select Borders stores and can be ordered on Borders.com anytime. The Libre eBook Reader Pro
can also be ordered on Borders.com.
-more-
Borders Opens eBook Store with Goal to Secure 17% eBook Market Share — 2
Blackberry and Android Applications
The company also announced today it is making available to consumers Blackberry® and
Android™ eReading applications, also powered by Kobo. Now customers can enjoy the free,
easy-to-use eBook reading applications on the BlackBerry® Curve™, the new BlackBerry®
Tour™ 9630 and the Blackberry® Bold™, as well as Android devices. These apps enable users
to quickly and easily browse and buy eBooks; search by title, author, topic, or keyword; access
their eBook library; download eBooks for offline reading; and enjoy several enhanced reading
features that amplify the digital reading experience. Users can download the free BlackBerry and
Android apps in the Borders branded eBook store at http://www.borders.com. The launch of these apps
represents another pillar in Borders’ digital rollout — an important part of its commitment to
enable customers to enjoy digital books on a wide variety of devices.
About “Powered by Kobo”: Kobo, Inc.
“Powered by Kobo” is an eBook partner program from Kobo, a global eBook service
backed by Indigo Books & Music, Borders Group, REDgroup Retail, and Cheung Kong
Holdings. The ‘Powered by Kobo’ program provides a flexible solution for hardware
manufacturers and retailers worldwide to launch an eReader or eBook store. “Powered by Kobo”
partners have access to Kobo’s catalogue of more than two million titles and applications for
smartphones, netbooks, laptops, tablets and dedicated eReaders. Kobo’s vision is to deliver any
book on any device and is a strong voice in the eBook industry supporting open standards for
eBooks and eReaders. For more information, visit http://www.kobobooks.com.
About Borders Group, Inc.
Headquartered in Ann Arbor, Mich., through its subsidiaries, Borders Group, Inc. (NYSE: BGP)
is a leading specialty retailer of books as well as other educational and entertainment items.
The company employs approximately 19,500 throughout the U.S., primarily in its Borders(R)
and Waldenbooks(R) stores. Online shopping is offered through borders.com. Find author
interviews and vibrant discussions of the products we and our customers are passionate about
online at facebook.com/borders, twitter.com/borders and youtube.com/bordersmedia. For more
information about the company, visit borders.com/media.
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