July 7, 2010, 3:06 PM

Borders introduces more electronic books initiatives

Borders is rolling out a new electronic books store with 1.5 million titles. 

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The electronic books battle among retailers keeps escalating, and this time the company making a pre-emptive strike at the market is Borders Group Inc.

Borders, No. 194 in the Internet Retailer Top 500 Guide, is rolling out a new electronic books store with 1.5 million titles, including what the retailer says are thousands of free titles. The books come in a variety of formats, including digital and PDF files, the retailer says.

Borders will offer its 38 million loyalty program members multiple incentives to shop at the e-books store, including gift cards, free shipping on certain items, double loyalty club dollars, also known as Borders Bucks, and exclusive offers on select digital titles. While the chain retailer didn’t break out any specific numbers, Borders also believes the new electronic books store—and other initiatives such as new iPhone and iPad apps for the Kobo electronic reading device—will help Borders achieve significant market share by next summer. The Kobo eReader is from Kobo Inc., a company financially backed by Indigo Books & Music, Borders, REDgroup Retail and Cheung Kong Holdings. Borders began offering the Kobo eReader for $149.99 in May.

"The race to emerge as a retail leader within the digital category is just starting," says Borders CEO Mike Edwards. “We are very well-positioned to come out strong and to ultimately claim about a 17% e-book market share by this time next year."

In conjunction with the new electronic books store, Borders also is introducing new apps for BlackBerry and Android wireless handheld devices. The apps enable users to browse and buy electronic books, search by title, author, topic, or keyword, and access a personalized books library.

To further drive sales, Borders also is setting up areas in its stores that let customers try out a Kobo electronic book reader, converse with a knowledgeable sales associate and download various product demonstrations. "During the past several months, we've been carefully crafting a digital strategy, one that has great content and a device-neutral philosophy backed by the Borders brand as its cornerstones,” says Edwards.

The latest electronics books initiatives from Borders caps a busy few weeks in the escalating battle among Borders, Amazon.com, Barnes & Noble Inc. and other players to capture more digital books and electronic reader sales. Last week Amazon reduced the price on its top-of-the line Kindle electronic reader to $379 from $489 and also recently cut the price of its base Kindle to $189, just after Barnes & Noble reduced the price of its Nook electronic book reader to $199.

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