Borders Buries Its Nose Deeper Into E-Books

Borders is expanding its reach into the e-book market with the launch of its e-bookstore, a site that holds 1.5 million titles and is powered by Canadian company Kobo.

Borders acquired a stake in the firm last year and sells the Kobo eReader at the online store, as well as the Sony Reader Pocket Edition and Sony Reader Touch Edition. The Kobo eReader and Sony Pocket Edition are priced at US$149.99.

Borders says it hopes to grab a 17 percent market share of the e-book market by 2011.

Still Emerging

That figure may well be attainable — the market is still in a nascent stage with new players emerging, Todd Day, an analyst with Frost & Sullivan, told the E-Commerce Times.

“Any time you have a newer market, you typically have a lot of players come in and try their hand it.” In the early days, he said, it is often difficult to pick winners and losers. “Some will be successful, some won’t, some will merge together, some will drop out altogether.”

It’s also unknown just how big the market will grow, Day added. “I think we can definitely say more people have come to accept the idea of reading books on a device. How many will make the switch? That, we still don’t know.”

Borders has a brand that can penetrate the space, especially since the space clearly is in the process of forming, Pace University Marketing Professor Paul Kurnit, coauthor of The Little Blue Book of Marketing: Build a Killer Plan in Less Than a Day, told the E-Commerce Times.

“I think in 10 years the e-book and e-reader market will be unrecognizable from today — with more people than we ever imagined using e-reader devices,” he said. “Borders will have a natural role in this environment.”

Open Standards Approach

Borders is not throwing itself into the fray without some support. Its Web site attracts 10 million unique visitors each month, according to comments made by CEO Mike Edwards to reporters. Borders also has 38 million e-mail addresses from people via its free rewards program.

Still, with its 2010 entrance, Borders is undeniably late, with Amazon’s established Kindle currently the device to beat in the market. Yet other viable players — Apple’s iPad and Barnes & Noble’s Nook — are recent entrants as well, suggesting that the e-book and e-reader market is indeed still unformed.

For the moment, Borders appears to be making a play for the casual reader with its low-priced devices — as well as an open-standards-based approach. Borders has also announced support for Android and BlackBerry platforms. Unlike other devices, readers can move books around devices freely, Borders has emphasized.

The Kobo reader is 4.7 inches by 7.2 inches, 0.4 inches thick and weighs less than 8 ounces. It uses e-ink technology and has up to two weeks of battery life, according to the company. It can store up to 1,000 books.

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