July 7, 2010

Borders Steps Into The E-Book Market

Borders Group Inc. stepped into a new market on Wednesday by launching an e-bookstore as it tries to catch up to competitors.

The company said that its goal with the new online store is to take 17 percent of the electronic book market by next July.

Borders was late getting into the market when compared to Amazon and Barnes & Noble Inc.  However, the company said that it took its time to plan its strategy, which rests on selling books that can be used across multiple platforms rather than just one e-reader.

The store has over 1.5 million titles and thousands of free ones.  The books are in PDF and ePub formats.  The Kobo eReader and Aluratek Libre eReader are both for sale on the site and priced under $150.  The company said it outgrew expectations as well, though it did not give figures.

The e-readers will also be available in all the brick-and-mortar stores in an area called "Area E" by early September.

Michael Norris, a senior analyst at the trade books group for Simba Information, said that the displays in stores will help draw in customers because they will be able to try out the devices. 

He said that the company may be later to the electronic book market than its rivals, but the market is young enough that there is still plenty of room to grow.  He estimates that about 90 percent of U.S. adults have not bought an electronic book yet, so there is still a lot of opportunity to gain new customers.

"You can leave an e-book store with one keystroke, so Borders just needs to focus on making the shopping experience work as conveniently as they say they will," he said.

Borders will extend its loyalty program to the digital store.  That will include benefits like special gift cards, exclusive offers and other incentives.

"The race to emerge as a retail leader within the digital category is just starting," CEO Mike Edwards said.

Borders also announced on Wednesday that it is making electronic reading applications powered by Kobo available for Blackberry and Android smartphones.


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