Borders Kobo: A Wi-Fi only e-reader, at a bargain-basement price

Borders will soon expand its Kobo line to include a Wi-Fi-powered device. But does the Kobo really stand a chance against the Amazon Kindle?

Borders will soon introduce a $140 Kobo e-reader with Wi-Fi capability. The newest Borders Kobo will ship in three different colors, and include a quilted back, pictured above.

In July, Amazon released the latest iteration of its popular Kindle e-reader line – a sleek, graphite-colored, Wi-Fi-capable machine priced at $139. The Kindle Wi-Fi was thought to be an exceptionally canny move on Amazon's part. After all, the company was offering a full-featured machine at a price that even non-technophiles would be comfortable with.

"This spells disaster for other e-reader makers, who have either relied on prices or features to hold some kind of edge on the Kindle," one blogger wrote at the time. "With the exception of Barnes & Noble's Nook, which closely matches the Kindle on price and features while luring shoppers in its bricks-and-mortar stores, the competition now needs to make some major adjustments."

Well, the competition has made some major adjustments. Today, Borders announced that it would soon launch a $140, Wi-Fi-powered Kobo e-reading device, just in time for the holiday shopping season. Borders says the new Kobo will get a quilted back and ship in three different color patterns: black, white, and lavender. The device, which is expected to be available on Nov. 1, weighs under 8 ounces and is a very svelte 0.4 inches thick.

The Kobo gets 1GB of memory, and includes a slot for an SD memory card, allowing users to expand the total memory to up to 4GB, or approximately 4,000 books. Not bad for a $140 machine. So will the Kobo be able to unseat the Kindle? Hard to say. The first iteration of the Kobo, which sold for $150, also undercut or matched its competition, but Borders still struggled to match Amazon on e-reader sales.

According to Business Week, Borders recently reported "a slightly larger second-quarter loss and said it would close underperforming stores and introduce a paid loyalty program as it deals with increasing competition."

Editor's Note: The original post misstated the weight of the Wi-Fi powered Kobo. The device weighs just under 8 ounces.

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