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Borders Plans September Launch Of e-Reader Departments

7/19/2010 12:01:00 AM Eastern

ANN ARBOR, MICH. — Borders
Group opened the virtual doors of its
eBook store this month and announced
plans to launch dedicated e-reader departments
in almost all of its Borders
superstores in early September.

The eBook store, created by global ereading
service Kobo, launched with more
than 1.5 million titles, including thousands
of free titles, in a variety of formats,
including EPUB, mobile and PDF. The
company is targeting a 17 percent share of
the e-book market by this time next year.

In its brick-and-mortar Borders
superstores, the company will open socalled
“Area-e” sections where consumers
will be able to try out and buy an
expanded selection of e-readers. The sections
will be staff ed by what the company
called “knowledgeable associates who
will demo products and answer customers’
questions.” Each Area-e section will
carry anywhere from seven to 10 e-readers,
a spokesperson told TWICE.

Borders already sells the Kobo e-reader,
two Sony e-readers and Aluratek’s
Libre eBook Reader Pro through www.Borders.com. The Sony models are also
available through all Borders superstores
and airport stores, and the Kobo
model is currently in about 125 of Borders’
508 superstores.

While it prepares for the September
e-Area launch, Borders Group plans by
the end of this month to expand sales
of its Kobo e-reader to “virtually all our
stores chain wide,” the spokesperson
said, which includes 173 stores in its
Waldenbooks Specialty Retail group,
including Waldenbooks, Borders Express,
and Borders airport stores.

The company might also roll out additional
e-readers through its Waldens
Specialty Retail outlets, she added.

The company started selling the Kobo
and Libre in recent weeks and said both
models, priced at less than $150, “have
surpassed sales expectations.” The Kobo
e-reader is available at $149, and the
Libre eBook Reader Pro retails for $119
on preorder for July 20 availability. The
Sony Touch is available at $169, and the
Sony Pocket retails for $149.

“The race to emerge as a retail leader
within the digital category is just starting,”
said Borders CEO Mike Edwards. “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 e-book
market share by this time next year.”

With device neutrality in mind, the
company announced the availability of its
Kobo-developed e-reader application for
BlackBerry and Android smartphones.
The free apps, available for download at
www.borders.com, work with the Black-
Berry Curve, Tour 9630 and Bold as
well as Android devices. The apps let users
browse, buy, download, and read ebooks
and search for books by title, author,
topic or keyword. The apps follow
the launch of Borders iPhone and iPad ereader
apps, also developed by Kobo.

Kobo is an e-book service backed by
Indigo Books & Music, Borders Group,
REDgroup Retail and Cheung Kong
Holdings.