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Borders extends mobile reach with ebook store, apps

Book retailer Borders Group Inc. is expanding its mobile repertoire with the launch of an ebook store and new applications for BlackBerry and Android devices.

The ebook store, which links up with Borders mobile applications includes more than 1.5 million titles – many of them free – according to the book seller. Borders teamed with ebook platform developer Kobo to create the store and mobile applications, and also offers ereader devices on its Web site.

“We are providing multiple ereading applications to give readers choice and flexibility for enjoying a library of content that grows with them on a variety of mobile devices,” said Mary Davis, spokeswoman at Borders, Ann Arbor, MI.

Borders is a nationwide retailer of books, educational materials and entertainment.

Toronto-based Kobo produces the “Powered by Kobo” ebook partner program that is used by Borders, Indigo Books & Music and RedGroup Retail.

Table of contents
Borders’ Android and BlackBerry applications let users buy and read books in a number of ways, both on their mobile phones and beyond.

“Readers can search and browse for new eBooks; purchase within the application; search by title, author and keyword; and download books for offline reading and access their library,” Ms. Davis said. “These apps also support synchronized bookmarks, where readers can keep their place within their books across multiple devices.”

In order to purchase books through the applications, users need to register with Borders.

“Customers can set up a new account or use their existing account, which is also linked to their Borders Rewards account,” Ms. Davis said. “We support all major credit card brands.”

The mobile space has seen a number of companies jockeying for prime position in the ereading sector.

Amazon announced last month that it was extending its Kindle application to the Android platform (see story), while Barnes & Noble has a mobile eReading strategy that includes a mobile optimized Web site, an iPhone application and future applications for the iPad and the Android operating system (see story).

Borders announced its partnership with Kobo late last year (see story) and launched its eReading applications for the iPhone and iPad on June 21.

Borders’ push into the mobile space comes as part of a larger effort to expand its offerings in the digital realm and to exert its multichannel influence to drive sales not only of ebooks, but also ereading devices.

The company says it wanted to focus on the convenience, choice, content and quality hardware it offers for its ereading platforms, and is targeting book lovers everywhere.

“We believe we’ll succeed in the digital category by leveraging our many assets, including our new eBook store on, expansive store network and our robust Borders Rewards loyalty program, which 38 million members have signed up for since it launched in 2006,” Ms. Davis said. “We will also have a strong in-store presence via our upcoming Area-e digital sections, in which we will offer anywhere from 7-10 ereading devices by the end of the year.

“These sections will be staffed by associates, who will be trained on the devices and can demo products to customers and answer their questions,” she said.

Borders is promoting its new mobile applications on its ebook store platform and its traditional Web site,

“In addition, we market the apps to our Borders Rewards loyalty program members and promote them via in-store signage,” Ms. Davis said.

The book retailer will continue to refine its ereading platforms in the coming months.

“We’ll continue to enhance the functionality of our ebook store and apps,” Ms. Davis said. “We’ll also launch our Area-e sections in September.”

Final Take
Peter Finocchiaro, editorial assistant at Mobile Commerce Daily, New York.