Borders has launched an eBook bookstore for numerous mobile devices in a bid to stake out a future in the book selling business and compete against Amazon and Apple's iBooks stores. The new eBookstore contains thousands of titles priced almost identically to Amazon. But, unlike the competition, Borders will allow customers to earn rewards and to pay for eBooks with "Borders Bucks."
Borders plans to capture 17% of the eBook market in a year's time with a combination of multiple device support and loyalty programs that will reward shoppers and offer pricing breaks. In addition to earning rewards for eBook purchases, customers who show a Barnes and Noble app at a Seattle's Best Coffee shop inside a Borders store will get a free small coffee.
Currently the Borders eBook Reader apps, which is powered by Kobo, will allow users to read an eBook on their Mac or PC computer as well as on the iPad, iPhone, iPod Touch, BlackBerry and Android devices. These are the same platforms that Amazon currently supports for reading Kindle purchases.
In addition to supporting numerous apps, Borders eBooks are compatible with several eBook readers that range in price from $119 to $150; $30 to $60 cheaper than Amazon's Kindle. These devices don't have 3G support for purchasing and bookmark syncing without plugging into a computer, but the Kobo reader can connect to certain phones to update a user's reading list on the go.
Like the Amazon Kindle device and apps, the Borders eReader app can sync your current place in a book between devices as well as your library. You can also download a sample of a book before you buy it.
I was able to download a sample eBook on my Android powered phone, read a few pages and then open the same book on my iPad at the same location.
The Borders eReader app is comparable to the Kindle app on both the Android and iPad devices, though the Kindle app offers more reading options -- including a Sepia background. Still, the Borders app is adequate for reading and includes the option to change text size, font and use a night mode that shows white text on a black background. One area where Borders stands out against the Kindle app is that you can make a purchase or download a sample from within the app. The Kindle app forces you to leave the app and make the purchase or sample request in your browser.
It's too early to tell if Borders' eBookstore has what it takes to capture 17% of the market by next July, but with multiple device support, polished eBook Readers powered by Kobo and a loyalty program it has a chance at earning consumers' eBook dollars.
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