Can Borders Unseat Amazon in the E-Book Market?

Borders today launched both an electronic book store and two handset clients — for BlackBerry and Android 2.0 devices — as it tries to compete against offerings from Amazon, Barnes & Noble and Apple. According to Reuters, the new Borders eBook store boasts 1.5 million titles (both free and paid) and lags only behind Amazon in terms of volume. And similar to Amazon, Borders is embracing e-books as a platform across multiple devices, rather than taking Apple’s approach, which currently limits its e-books to iOS4 devices only.

Will following in Amazon’s footsteps guarantee the same level of success for Borders, currently the number two brick-and-mortar bookseller in terms of overall sales? Om believes that it’s Amazon’s game to lose, mainly because the retailer understands online sales world like few others — customers trust Amazon and its one-click purchase method. Still, the company may not be the guaranteed winner in this market: Barnes & Noble has already proven that a traditional bookseller can transition successfully to digital content. Last month, the company reported that its share of the digital market already exceeds its share of the retail book market, and Barnes & Noble Members are reported to spend 17 percent more after purchase of a B&N Nook e-reader. These recent successes could bode well for Borders.

Borders is leveraging Amazon’s blueprint for success with content viewable on multiple handsets and page bookmarking that follows a reader from device to device. The company has partnered with Kobo for e-reader software, which opens up Borders content on several standalone e-Ink and LCD devices that range in price from $119 to $169 — and the list includes two Sony e-readers.

I took Amazon’s Kindle software for a spin on my Android smartphone last week, and today I installed the Borders eBook application on my Google Nexus One. The overall experience between the two is similar, but the new Borders application supports in-app shopping — a slight advantage over the Kindle software. And I like the lists that help you discover new titles to read, especially the blatant dig at Apple with the “Can’t Get These in iBooks” list. However, the overall reading experience in the Borders app lags: three fonts, no themes and, like the Kindle app, no support for notes or highlights. Similar to Amazon’s store, consumers can download a free preview of any title from Borders.

 

Related research on GigaOM Pro (sub req’d):

The Price of E-Book Progress

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