Borders is making a run at Amazon’s Kindle e-book reader. The book store chain recently announced the launch of their own e-book reader, the Elonex.
The Elonex will come pre-loaded with about 1,000 books and will support both the open-source ePub and proprietary Adobe formats. It will be “completely compatible” with the 45,000 odd e-books sold through the Borders website, says the company.
“Digital bookselling is still in its infancy but we believe it is here to stay,” says Peter Newbould, commercial director at Borders. “By launching the e-book reader, we hope to bring new customers into the market.”
The Equinox will offer readers the ability to go into a Borders store and purchase and instantly download titles.
Borders isn’t the only bookstore challenging the Kindle. Competitor brick and morter store Barnes and Nobel has also stepped up and is working on their own e-book reader.
“The big book stores are seeing Amazon take more and more market share of digital book sales,” says Sarah Rotman-Epps, an analyst with Forrester Research. “E-books are a small part of the market but it is one of the growth areas and retailers don’t want to stand back and let Amazon get ahead.”
The moves by Borders and in the future by Barnes & Nobles is also attempt to stave off a fate that music retail stores have faced as records went digital, says Epps. Still the transition is unlikely to be easy.
“It’s not a pretty picture right now for brick-and-mortar retailers,” said Epps. “E-books sales are growing but they can’t nearly bring in the same kind of revenue as physical books do,” she says.
Meanwhile, e-book readers promoted by big stores could also widen the gap between chain stores and independent book sellers who may not be able to offer an integrated e-book reading experience.
Of course, this begs the question of if the e-book readers will be cross-store comptabile or propritary . And could this be the next great battle along the lines of digital music players?