October 5, 2010 UPDATE: Move on. Go away. I’ve had to retract this post (except for the three posters in the Borders window, which you can still see after the break).
Not only has Borders now added the two new Sony Reader Touch models for ordering, they’ve also — stupidly — raised the price of the Aluratek Libre from $99.99 to $119.00.
This is not something anyone else has written about. I have it first.
I went into Borders this morning and noticed something strangely different at the Area E section. The notice telling people they could pre-order the new models of Sony Reader was missing. I asked the Area E person about this. She said Borders no longer intends to carry those.
This has to be the first smart move Borders has made in eBooks.
I have nothing against Sony and its new Readers (see this link — which I will make live later once that post is finished). It’s just that they no longer fit in with the Borders/Kobo setup.
To briefly recap: Kobo has its own system. The Kobo Reader hardware does not use ePub as its native format. eBooks are placed in an SQLite database. There is nothing wrong with this. People can always explicitly download the ePub file from the Kobo/Borders site at any time for no extra charge.
However, this arrangement would quickly create a support nightmare for Borders.
The Kobo/Borders Desktop software uses the same SQLite arrangement as the Kobo Reader hardware. Borders would have to explicitly tell people — no doubt via many, many toll-free support calls — that they’d have to go through an extra step to buy an eBook for their Sony Reader.
Frankly, Borders just doesn’t need that ongoing headache.
So, they’ve dumped the Sony Reader and are now going all-in with Kobo — of which they own 20%.
What Borders needs to do now is dump the Aluratek Libre. And I think that move is next. Just look at the new set of posters that Borders has placed in its window. It tells the tale!
Notice the price range in that third poster! It begins at $119! The Aluratek Libre is selling for $99! I don’t think its price is going to go up — that’d be a suicidal move. I think Borders will dump it and the wired Kobo Reader will drop another $10 in price, to $119, after the WiFi Kobo Reader is in stores. And that third poster will be replaced with no Aluratek Libre in it.
The Aluratek Libre requires the same extra step the Sony Reader would require. I think Borders has learned its lesson from that experience.
I also think Borders has been monitoring Twitter chatter. They’ve removed all the frikkin souvenirs from the front of this store. Now it looks like a bookstore again when you walk in.
What they really need to do is move Area E so it’s the first thing people see coming in. Steal that page from Barnes & Noble.