Borders to Slash E-Reader Prices: Report

 
 
By Nicholas Kolakowski  |  Posted 2010-08-31
 
 
 

Borders plans on slashing the prices of the Kobo and Aluratek Libre e-readers by $20, in a bid to better compete against competitors such as the Amazon Kindle and Barnes & Noble Nook, according to a new online report.

Borders President Mike Edwards told the Wall Street Journal Aug. 31 that the price cuts allowed his company to place one of those e-readers, the Aluratek Libre, in the under-$100 category. He also reportedly insisted that the cuts were not a reflection of "pricing in the marketplace."

The Kobo will reportedly sell for $129.99, down from $149.99, and the Aluratek Libre will now retail for $99.99, as opposed to $119.99.

By slashing prices, Borders seems to be angling for a larger share of the e-reader market by undercutting the original Kindle and Nook, which retail for $189. Amazon also offers a WiFi-only version of the Kindle for $139, while Barnes & Noble's WiFi-only Nook sells for $149.

However, Borders also plans to offer two higher-priced, full-color e-readers during the fall season: the $199 Cruz Reader and the $299 Cruz Tablet, which also allow users to surf the Web and play multimedia files.  

With regard to occupying more market share, Borders has a decidedly uphill battle before it. Amazon announced its third-generation Kindle July 28, unveiling a device with a higher-contrast e-ink screen, longer battery life, Wikipedia access, support for password-protected PDFs and a more lightweight body. Within days, Amazon posted a "temporarily sold out" message on its Kindle page; orders today are expected to take 17 days.

Despite the battles between the various e-readers, all the companies within the segment face a rising threat in the form of the Apple iPad, which includes an e-reader application. In July, Susquehanna Financial Group analyst Marianne Wolk suggested that Apple had likely shipped more iPads than Amazon had Kindle users. Those estimates may prove problematic, considering Amazon's habitual refusal to release numbers associated with the device, but nonetheless suggest the potential pressures that the online retailer faces with regard to both book sales and negotiating with publishers.

Amazon and Barnes & Noble are also locked in a battle over software upgrades for their respective devices. A few days after the newest Kindle's debut, two downloadable puzzle games appeared in the Kindle Store-seemingly an early attempt to match the Nook's selection of Android-based games. In January, Amazon announced a Kindle SDK (software development kit) for developers to create games and applications for the platform, and presumably match similar offerings available on the Nook.

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