Borders launches e-book store, expects 17 percent share by 2011

Borders said Wednesday that it had launched its own branded e-book store, offering about 1.5 million titles in a variety of formats. The move follows the successful launch of the Kobo and Aluratek e-readers, which have surpassed sales expectations.

The e-book store will be powered by Kobo, which also has created Border's iPhone and iPad apps. Versions for the BlackBerry and Android platforms were also made available Wednesday. All three platforms are free downloads from their respective application stores.

Borders is projecting a lot of confidence in its digital strategy. CEO Mike Edwards said the company is confident that it could grab about a 17 percent market share by 2011. "During the past several months, we've been carefully crafting a digital strategy," Edwards said. "We believe we are very well positioned to come out strong."

If successful, Borders' e-book store could actually have a bigger market share than its brick-and-mortar division (about 10 percent). This would also likely provide a crucial boost to a struggling company, who saw sales at its established stores and online fall some 11.4 percent in the first quarter of the year.

A vast marketing effort will accompany Borders' launch of the e-book store. Its loyalty card members would receive extra points for purchasing e-readers as well as exclusive offers on digital content. The readers themselves also are receiving prominent placement in stores, much like competitor Barnes & Noble has done with the Nook.

The store section -- being dubbed "Area-e" -- should be in a majority of the Borders' stores by September, the company said.

Borders is the third major retailer to enter the e-book business. Amazon was first, launching its store and Kindle reader in late 2007. This was followed by Barnes & Noble, who launched their Nook reader last October.

Kobo launched in June. The project had received an investment from Borders, and at the time the company had said Kobo would eventually help it step into the e-book market.

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