Borders may not be the biggest name in ebook readers. They may not have the nicest devices or the most robust selection. But by god, they're going to win on price if it kills them. Enter the $US120 Aluratek Libre.
The Libre isn't on the same level as the Kindle or even the Sony eBook reader family. In fact, last December Jason decreed it "the worst ebook reader we've tested". So there's that. But consider that at the time it was going for 50 per cent more than its current $US120 price tag, and maybe it doesn't look quite so terrible.
It's also party of the greater Borders strategy to offer a wide range of ebook readers - up to 10 this year alone - at "good, better, best" levels of capability. Presumably, the Libre is "good". Because it's hard to imagine what it might be better than.
Will the approach pay off? Maybe! Borders doesn't have quite the clout of Barnes and Noble or Amazon to push their own device. And if the end result is that consumers have more choice - lots more - in a segment that's so far been dominated by just two or three major players, that's best for everyone.
Borders® and Aluratek Partner on ‘Libre' eBook Reader Pro, First $US119 Device Featuring Link to Borders eBook Store Available for Pre-Order at Borders.com
ANN ARBOR, Mich., June 1, 2010 - Borders® and Aluratek today announced an agreement to feature Aluratek's "Libre" eBook Reader Pro in Borders' growing lineup of eReaders. Pre-orders are now being taken at www.borders.com/libre with shipments to begin in early July. The Libre will be available in Borders stores within special digital shops called "Area-e" in August.
The Libre will be available at Borders for just $US119.99, significantly lower in cost than many of the eReading devices now available. The new eReader is in line with Borders' plan to provide a "good, better, best" selection of eReaders that will appeal to virtually any customer who wants to enjoy digital books. With the included link to the Borders eBook store, Libre users can access the upcoming Borders branded eBook store powered by Kobo.
The Libre offers multi-function features such as the ability to play digital music and display digital photo albums at a low price-point. Other features include auto-off, page advance, innovative LCD technology and superior battery life that powers up to 24 hours of continuous use.
Maintaining its device neutral approach, Borders will offer up to 10 devices by the end of the year.
"Borders believes in giving its customers a depth and breadth of eReader device offerings and the Libre maps to this strategy," said Borders Group Interim President and Chief Executive Officer Mike Edwards. "By offering eReading devices at price points in the neighbourhood of $US100, we can introduce a population of readers to the joy of eReading who would not have considered buying devices at entry points of $US250 to $US500."
"We're building an eReader that will support the most powerful brand in books and we know Borders shares our vision of bringing an affordable eReader to the masses," said John Wolikow, Vice President of Sales and Marketing for Aluratek. "Unlike others in the marketplace who see an eBook store as a means for selling their own hardware, it makes sense for Borders to take a device-neutral approach and offer their printed book readers a depth of eReader choices."