Bookseller Borders was unable to survive the crushing onslaught from Amazon and Barnes and Noble, eventually leading to a Chapter 11 bankruptcy filing earlier this year. As the shell of a company continues to sell assets to pay creditors, it’s started scraping the bottom of the barrel. Borders has agreed to sell off its last significant asset; 65,536 IPv4 addresses. Software vendor Cerner will pick them up for $12 each.
Is that the sound of Tap being played off in the distance? It appears that despite seeking debt restructuring and filing for bankruptcy was not enough to save Borders from its fate. The chain is closing up shop, taking all its remaining 399 stores with it. 11,000 employees are expected to be out of work.
It's been a tough year for Borders and its employees. Competition from the the likes of Amazon and Barnes & Noble have made it difficult for Borders to turn a profilt, and as a result, Borders filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection back in February. That's no laughing matter if you're a Borders employee, just don't accuse the book chain of losing its sense of humor.
With the semi-recent price cuts to both the Kindle (Amazon) and Nook (Barnes and Noble), the pressure is on the also-rans to make a compelling argument for themselves. Kobo's getting some help doing that courtesy of Borders.
From now until October 31, 2010, Borders is selling the vanilla version of the Kobo eBook reader for $100, down $30 from it's regular $130 price tag. By vanilla, we mean it doesn't come with Wi-Fi, a standard feature on both the Kindle and Nook.
While the reduced pricing is only temporary, we wouldn't be surprised if it stuck through the holiday shopping season, or indefinitely. For the sake of comparison, the Kobo Wireless eReader with Wi-Fi sells for $140.
In related news, Amazon recently announced that it's new generation Kindle is selling better than ever, selling more devices since launch than the company did during the entire fourth quarter of last year. That's what Kobo -- and every other also-ran -- is up against.
If you're going to survive in the eBook reader game, you have to adapt, and quickly. Kobo seems to understand this and has gone and refreshed its eBook reader to better compete with Amazon's Kindle and Barnes & Noble's Nook.
At a glance, you'd be hard pressed to tell which is the new and which is the old Kobo. They look the same, save for new color options (it's available in "metallic silver," "pearlized lilac," and "basic black"). So what's different? For starters, the second-gen Kobo comes with Wi-Fi, a welcome addition considering the original shipped without Wi-Fi or 3G.
There's also an improved processor pushing faster page turns (Kobo says up to 2.5X faster than the original) and navigation. The screen is supposedly better too, though there's no mention of it using the Pearl display featured in the Kindle and Sony Readers. And finally, Kobo says it improved battery life, which Kobo claims is good for up to 10,000 page turns on a single charge.
The new Kobo is available for preorder at $139 and ships in October. Those who preorder through Kobobooks.com are eligible for two free eBooks (Fear the Worst and When My World Was Very Small).
The ACLU, along with other groups, has filed a lawsuit challenging the authority of customs officials to search electronic devices at US borders. The practice of searching these items comes from a 2008 policy change that allows border agents to search a traveler's electronic devices without reason. The lawsuit seeks to have the practice ended, unless a warrant is obtained, or if there is probable cause.
Since the policy was established, some travelers have had their hard drives copied by border agents, and still others have seen their devices confiscated entirely. The ACLU has obtained documents through the Freedom of Information Act that show 6600 travelers have had their electronic devices searched by border agents between October 2008 and June 2010.
Let us know where you stand on this. Under what circumstances should searches be allowed? What would you do if a border guard wanted to search your computer? What about your cell phone?
Give credit to Amazon and Barnes & Noble for sparking an eBook reader price war, or give a shout out to the emerging tablet market, which undoubtedly has played a role in the recent market adjustment. Either way, it's you, Joe Consumer, who is benefiting from price cuts across the board.
The latest to join the lower-cost eReader fray is Borders. Starting today, both the Kobo eReader and Aluratek Libre eBook Pro are available for $130 and $100, respectively. That's not bad considering neither one was priced particularly high to begin with -- the Kobo previously sold for $150, while the Aluratek device was going for $120.
"This is a significant inflection point in terms of market penetration of the Kobo and Aluratek eReaders," said Mike Edwards, CEO of Borders. "We envision this price reduction, enabling the purchase of these devices a a second eReader in a household, as a more affordable option -- the list goes on."
Borders is hitting the eReader market pretty hard. In addition to the newly priced Kobo and Aluratek, the bookstore will also carry Velocity Micro's upcoming Android-based Cruz Reader for $200, as well as the Cruz Tablet ($300), both of which are currently available for preorder.
If nothing else, Borders is certainly ambitious. The company today announced the launch of its own branded eBook store powered by Kobo, and in doing so wasted no time in revealing its intention of grabbing a 17 percent share of the eBook market by July, 2011.
"The race to emerge as a retail leader within the digital category is just starting," said Mike Edwards, Chief Executive Officer for Borders, Inc. "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. We believe we are very well positioned to come out strong and to ultimately claim about a 17 percent eBook market share by this time next year."
Getting off to a good store, Borders' eBook store kicks things off with 1.5 million titles, thousands of which are free, and available in a bunch of different formats, including ePub, mobile, and PDF. And to make sure as many people as possible have access to the store, Borders also launched eBook reader apps on the BlackBerry Curve, Tour 9630, and Bold, as well as the Android platform.
Borders is no stranger to the e-reader game. The brick and mortar book seller has had Sony units for sale for a number of years. But now in the face of rival Barnes and Noble's Nook push, Borders is looking to create a more integrated eBook solution, and offer customers more choice by stocking up to 10 different devices by the end of 2010. These e-readers are expected to run the gamut of price points. All the devices will be connected to Borders' as yet unlaunched Borders eBooks store in conjunction with Kobo. They will show off all the devices in the cunningly named "Area-e" section of the store.
Kobo isn't just running the technology behind the eBook store, they are also making an eReader that Borders plans to begin selling this month. The Kobo is expected to retail for $149. Much lower than the competing Nook and Kindle. The so-called Alex dual screen e-reader has also been rumored for months, Add to that the just announced Libre e-reader which should sell for a downright reasonable $120, and the Borders strategy becomes more clear. They will offer products at all prices to lure in consumers, and get them to commit to their book ecosystem. The Libre will have a black and white LCD (instead of eInk), and users will have to load books on via a PC of SD cards.
Do you think this is a better strategy than the Amazon and Barnes and Noble model of having a single hero device?
Mother's Day 2010 is officially in the books, and it's now time to look ahead to Father's Day. To help you do that, Borders is now accepting pre-orders for the upcoming Kobo eReader, a $150 device Borders hopes will hold its own against Amazon's Kindle and Barnes and Noble's Nook.
"The Kobo eReader is the eReader for everyone and is now available in the U.S. – launching at Borders," said Michael Serbinis, CEO of Kobo. "At $149.99 the Kobo eReader is roughly $100 less than the other eReading devices out there, so it provides a great way to start eReading without breaking the bank. We couldn’t be happier about partnering with a brand like Borders which shares our commitment to technological innovation, high quality, and customer value."
Kobo will come pre-loaded with the Borders eBook app, giving users access to over a million ebooks, through USB or via Bluetooth. It will also come with 100 classic books already downloaded, with enough memory (1GB) to store 10 times as many, and an SD card slot to add even more.