Borders launches $199 Kobo eReader


As expected, retail chain Borders today started selling the Kobo eReader device in Australia for $199 both through its stores and online, promising that the Kobo platform would allow readers to access their eBooks on other platforms such as the iPhone and iPad.

In a statement issued by Borders at the Sydney launch of the device, REDGroup Retail, which operates the Borders brand in Australia, said that over 2 million titles – including “a great range of dedicated Australian content” –- would be available over the Kobo platform.

“Through our partnership with global eBook retailer Kobo, we are bringing a whole new level of choice, control and flexibility to Australian book lovers,” said REDGroup group managing director Dave Fenlon.

Fenlon said the Kobo eBooks could be accessed on the iPhone, BlackBerry, Android, iPad, PC or dedicated eReading device. “We have developed a range of free apps for iPhone, iPad and other leading devices in the market so eBooks can be downloaded directly to those devices,” he said.

The company is also planning to advance its technology so that customers will be able to bookmark pages in books and have those bookmarks automatically transfer across to other devices when they open a specific eBook.

Australian content
Fenlon said Borders had created an “eBook store for Australians” to specifically serve the local market.

“We are delighted to have secured content deals with Australian publishers, both large and independent, ensuring long-term sustainable content for our eBook platform,” he said. “Over 100 publishers have come on board. New titles will constantly be added to the already 2 million available, ensuring we always have a comprehensive content offering.”

“Australians are early adopters of new technology and moreover they are avid readers, and we believe there is a very strong appetite for eBooks in this country.”

In Borders’ press pack it had promotional material for Australian titles such as Ray Martin’s autobiography. Borders also said it would make 100 eBooks available free with its eReader – although most of those listed in promotional material were titles for which copyright restrictions have expired – such as Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice or Leo Tolstoy’s War and Peace.

Full specifications for the Kobo eBook reader are available online, but in brief, the device has a 6” screen and weighs 221g. It doesn’t have an LCD screen like the Apple iPad – instead using the e-ink format which the Amazon Kindle shares.

Borders said the eReader can hold 1,000 eBooks and can also have its storage expanded with an additional SD memory card. However, unlike the Amazon Kindle, users will not be able to download eBooks directly to the device – they will need to sync it with their PC first.

Image credit: Borders


  1. Eewwww …. what a yucky publicuity shot, Couldnt borders at least have put an older person and someone not totally european in there to make it more PC?

  2. I personally still don’t get eReaders. I’m sick of looking at a screen all day – the least enjoyable way to absorb a book to me would be tor read it on a small electronic screen. It’s paper all the way here.

    • Hey Dee, the thing about most eReaders (but not the iPad) is that their screens are not ‘active’ LCD screens which are bright and dynamic like our computer monitors. The e-ink screens used by the Kindle and the Kobo eReader are passive, and very much like paper books to read — they require the correct lighting, and you can really get into reading with them for long periods at a time.

    • I have used Stanza at times, but overall find it quite limiting — will be interesting to see what the Kobo system is like. As someone put to me today, at $199 it’s pretty much an impulse buy for a lot of people — a fair bit cheaper than the Kindle, less complex and (I believe) more open.

  3. Good one!
    The good news is that we even have more Ebooks available in Australia! and they finally seem very reasonable priced!
    I am not too sure about the Kobo reader… anyway.. great effort to get a reader under 200 aud!

    Dee> I think it’s time for you to have a look at one of the ereaders… you will notice that for some strange reason it does not look like an electronic screen.

    • Agreed, love my Cybook, but it’s dead now. This will fill that void well. Go into Borders and check it out, eBooks is almost as easy to read as paper and battery life is outstanding.

  4. One problem with this eBook thing from Borders is the pricing. Some eBooks are $8 cheaper than there paperback counter parts. Some are a few dollars more expensive than there paperback counter parts. $19.95 for paperback, $22.95 for eBook.

    • The Borders store:

      1. A lot of books will be out of copyright, so will be free, and add to the 2million count. Unlike Amazon who charge a token amount (to cover the wispernet and other ongoing costs of the device).

      2. The lack of radio apart from bluetooth is a food thing. Keep the device price low and reduce ongoing costs or the need to add price to books means the prices on some books are cheaper than even the Kobo bookstore!,

      3. Prices will be set by publisher not Borders/Kobo, so there will be some strange prices at the start. Market forces should correct this.

      4. I will be testing the iPad app tonight, to see if the non-DRM books and PDF will convert accross ok.

      Stay tuned for more!

      • “Keep the device Price low” Are you serious? How about I buy 10 new books for the price of one of these things? Or wait, buy another device which has lots of other functionality as well as reading.
        As for the ‘screens on ereaders are better for reading argument. See “How about I buy 10 new books for the price of one of these things?”

        • There are so many arguments for e-reading that you’re not taking into consideration. How about:

          1. The ability to carry around 1,000 books in one tiny device. Try doing that with real books.
          2. The ability to not store a whole library of books in your house, saving space, clutter and dust.
          3. The ability to not have to go to a physical bookstore to buy a book.

          These, it seems to me, are important new facilities that we didn’t have before as readers. They save us time, money and space — certainly over the long term, more than $199.

          • Renai;

            1. I don’t have 1000 books. It would take me 5 years of constant reading to read 1000 books. Books aren’t CD’s. Trying to apply the same business model as worked for MP3 players won’t work for books

            2. Aesthetics, call me an old fart, but I LIKE having books in my house. Perhaps my kids won’t and good luck to them. But I don’t think that’s an argument for spending $199 for the right to buy books.

            3. It’d be a very sad world if we didn’t have bookstores where you couldn’t talk with the book seller. To go back to the Music analogy. I buy online and in Record Stores. If Red Eye records closed, it’d be a sad day. I think there is room for both – and perhaps that is what you are saying

            Aside from the most ardent readers, most readers who want to read eBooks would be better off with a multifaceted device like iPad/HP Slate/whatever comes to market. The screens will only get better (multi-functional setting perhaps?) and while the Kobo/Kindle platform will live on in Software, the devices will be a small part of the business if at all.

            You may have read my post from about 6 months ago on the topic re: Kindle

            “In the end Amazon shouldn’t really care. Just like Apple, they want people to come to their store and spend money there. The fact they have built an excellent customer experience to assist the customer in consuming their stock shouldn’t depend on the device.”

          • 1. maybe a better argument is “carrying” 1000 book as Renai said. It will be a boon to uni students and lawyers who can keep all their textbooks and what not in one device. Importantly, they will be more usefull during open book exams as it would be a challange to cheat with the device unlike the iPad

            2. my favourate publisher Baen actually puts DRM fee ebook CD into the cover of hardcover books. Like the author or series? Congrats, you have their entire back catalog in ebook format on the disk. This could become a great value add, epecially with Baen authors experimenting with computer animation, fan created content (role playing games, fan art, professional art, music inspired by or used for inspiration). This is a win/win for publishers and still encourages books sales

            3. I have been looking at this for a while and my friendly local bookstore still sees Bookstores as a value add, even for ebooks. Buy vouchers from the store, get recomendations from sales staff, combined ebook/print book deals. There is still a place for bookstores large and small

          • …and you know, if Kobo and Kindle make it easier for people to read, I’m all for it. Too many kids never read or don’t read enough. Perhaps the Laptops in Schools program should be replaced with Kobo’s in schools?
            That’d be cool

  5. hi all

    *I work for Borders*

    We did some testing on the iPhone app, and cross-checked with the desktop app. Quite alot of the oz titles we have in the pipe haven’t synced in both stores. All things going as they should tonights update should add many of the missing titles, but we know that in practical terms it is difficult to get so many titles over the line at the same time

    We decided that given the apps and the device were good to go we were better to go live with what is, lets face it, a very substantial list and add to the available titles as they came on stream. We have alot more that are coming on stream in the next days to weeks, so check each day as we update the feed.

    We are in discussions with all oz publishers and we hope to help as many as possible, particularly the smaller guys to get their books converted for ereading

    We’ve just finished with the launch, so I’ll contact Renai with some contact details when we return to ‘base camp’ if you have questions



    • Cheers Malcolm, that’s really good to know! Apparently Borders are sending a Kobo to me to test out — I haven’t received it yet, but I will post a review of it, hopefully next week, when I have had time to go through the experience.

      I have been encouraged by the number of publishers and the amount of books that Borders is working with here … there seems to be an energy in the industry around this initiative that has previously been lacking. I view it as an important step for eReading in Australia (and reading in general).

  6. I’ve had my eye on e-readers for year,s and yesterday I bit the bullet and bought a Kobo. I blame Renai’s tweet yesterday for pushing me over the edge (FWIW, I reckon the Kobo eReader is the best eReading device to launch so far in Australia #borders 11:36 AM May 19th via TweetDeck).

    It’s been less than 24 hours, but so far I think it’s brilliant. I tend to have lots of books on the go at one time, and being able to carry around an ample selection of e-books + select pdfs is great. It’s far more convenient than having to lug my laptop around, and will be particularly useful when for travel.

    My wife was even more impressed. She fell in love with it immediately.

    It has its limitations (portability = smallish screen space, no colour, can’t rescale pdfs), and it won’t be a device to everyone’s taste, but for me it’s the start of a beautiful friendship.

  7. Hmm, I’d already grabbed the Kobo app for iPhone, and it looked good: the intro step was well-designed. However, I prefer to create accounts on my laptop, so I looked for Borders Australia, and found they have their own client, “Borders” reader. I’ve grabbed that too, but I’m a bit confused. :S

    Should we be using the Kobo ereader app, or the Borders ereader app?

    • So far every book have searched appear on both Kobo and Border app. Use both, but some books I have found on Kobo are cheaper on the Borders app (and Kobo appears to be priced in Canadian Loonies)

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