Ann Arbor-based Borders Group this morning announced the launch of the Borders e-book store.
Built atop existing e-book store Kobo, the store carries a catalog of 1.5 million books that can be read on a PC, a Mac, an Android phone, a BlackBerry an iPhone, iPad, or iPod Touch. For the smartphones, Borders has a free app for downloading and reading the books. Books can be downloaded in three formats: ePub, a mobile format for Borders apps, and good old PDF. The books are priced at $9.99 to $12.99 for most new titles. Some recent titles go for $4.99. And there are lots of free books, too.
For customers who want a dedicated e-book reader, Borders sells the Kobo eReader and Aluratek Libre eReader. Both gadgets are priced under $150.
In a press release about the store, the company led with a claim that Borders’ goal is “to secure a 17 percent share of the eBook market by July 2011.” That will require Borders to make serious cut into Apple and Amazon’s e-book sales, as well as growing the market to attract new e-book customers directly to Borders.
The company’s plan seems to be two-pronged. First, Borders is actively supporting a wide range of existing consumer electronics devices, brands already known and loved by their owners. Second, the company is competing on price. Instead of basing its store around a $500 reader, in the manner of Amazon’s Kindle and Apple’s iPad, Borders offers free reading on devices most of the target demographic already own, plus two inexpensive readers. If the company markets its program well and moves quickly before Amazon or Apple find a way to steal the buzz, Borders’ 17 percent goal doesn’t seem crazy at all.
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