Better late than never? Or will most of the worms be going to one of the earlier birds? Borders is just now launching its e-bookstore, a 1.5 million-plus title collection (including numerous free titles) powered by Canadian e-book retailer Kobo Inc.
"The race to emerge as a retail leader within the digital category is just starting," insists Borders CEO Mike Edwards. The company is also selling two models of e-reader, now available both online and in Borders stores. Even given the current price war going on in the e-reader market, Borders' Kobo (selling for $149.99) and Libre ($119.99) e-readers still have the advantage of prices at the very bottom of the range.
The company also hopes that the fact that the new Borders Kobo e-book app can be used across multiple platforms rather than on just one device will work to its advantage.The Kobo app is already available for iPhone, BlackBerry, and Android.
But how realistic is Borders' stated goal of taking 17 percent of the electronic book market by next July?
The Wall Street Journal quotes Albert Greco, a book industry researcher, who estimates that in 2009 Borders had a 10 percent share of the retail book sales market. Competitors in the e-book world include Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Apple, and – later this year – Google.
At this point, however, the essential thing may simply be to show up. As Forrester Research media analyst James McQuivey told the press late last year, "Borders absolutely has to get into this game now or forever be left out of it."
Marjorie Kehe is the Monitor's book editor.