Borders Group Inc, it seems is in a hurry and is quickly preparing themselves to make their presence felt in the e-book segment. And as the first step, the company launched commercial operation of their online bookstore on Wednesday. This will allow users to buy books from Borders.com and have them downloaded in their e-readers. The company also took the opportunity to announce new BlackBerry and Android e-reader apps, which will be in addition to its desktop, iPhone, and iPad apps already available. All this with the intention of garnering a bigger slice of the burgeoning e-book market and putting up a stiff competition to the rivals in this business of e-books.
But as things stand now, Borders is a latecomer in the business and for it to match up with the others, they will have a lot of ground to cover. It lags behind as of now in their launch schedules for we already have Nook e-Reader by Barnes & Noble Inc followed by Apple Inc, who has already launched their iPad tablet. And not to mention they are up against the might Amazon who have a controlling stake of the e-book market though the iPad did shake shake them a bit. But in any case, they aim to secure a modest 17 percent of the market share by July 2011 to begin with.
In an interview with Reuters, the Chief executive of Borders Inc, Mike Edwards mentioned “We’ll take market share just by turning it on. A lot of people have said, ‘You’re kind of late to the game,’ and I’m saying, ‘the game actually just started.’“ The problems being faced by Borders is very clear. They had a drop in sales by 11.4 per cent last year during the opening of their namesake stores and even the same happened during the first quarter on its website stores.
Their chief has claimed having a list of about 38 million customers who are in their loyalty program, a figure which puts them just behind Barnes and Noble. That makes them out to be the second in line as a book store. They also set claim to about 700 online virtual bookstores through which they would be promoting their online presence.
The Borders eBook store, as of now has over 1.5 million titles for immediate download with several thousands of them coming free of cost. Also, all of the book from Borders come in a variety of formats like ePUB or PDF. All the books availed from the Borders eBook store will also compatible with any of the Borders eReader apps as also with devices like the Kobo e-reader. Prices start from as low as just 79 cents to a high of $18 for some digital titles though its $9.99 that most of the titles are available in. The bookstore will have everything from new best sellers to free classics up for sale.
Compare the numbers with the others like Amazon who have on offer 620,00o books and an additional 1.8 million out-of-copyright titles for download at no cost. Barnes & Nobles on their side have 1 million titles to offer.
There has been improvement on the website of Borders. This has led to higher sales figures for them. As on date they have about 5 percent of their total sales being conducted online and in terms of money $100 million has been transacted through the site.
Borders has a different sales strategy as per Edward, in which they were not going into the scheme where high priced gadgets were being made and provided to customers for reading the books by the particular maker . This is currently how Barnes & Nobel as well as Amazon.com are spurring their ebook sales figures. With price of the gadgets showing a downward trend, this sales policy, Edward believes will not last long and this is evident for his statement where he says “I’m ecstatic that we decided we’re not going to be in that game. “We are not a device maker. We’re a bookseller.”
However Borders expects to be selling 10 different e-Readers by the end of 2010, which will earn it the unique distinction of being the first retailer to embrace more than one e-reader. They currently have the Kobo eReader and Alutratek Libre eReader listed on its website with both priced below $150.
Report from Goldman Sachs states that by April sales of e-books would be rising to 12.8 percent by 2015 from its current 3 percent mark when taking all book selling figures into consideration in the US.
Even though bookselling would shift by about 20 percent to the online process, yet Edwards as well as Barnes & Noble Chairman Len Riggio contemplate that physical store book selling would also remain in force.
There are about 1500 stores that are run by either Barnes & Noble or Borders in the US and this is a high figure as per Edwards when he says “The store base at large would probably shrink.”
Booksellers on their side are now trying to make out what to shelve in the place being emptied by the digital books. Starting from children’s merchandise to consumer electronics apparel is now being showcased at these erstwhile book shelf places. They say “The pressure on us is not on the digital side how you create that new retail experience, that’s where the art is going to be.”
Borders also revealed they plan to set up new e-book sections in its brick-and-mortar stores that will supplement the online store and apps. This will allow users to sit and preview e-books in-store before buying them with supported e-readers or devices that have the Borders eReader app installed in it. Users will alose be allowed to try out partner e-reader devices like the Kobo e-reader or the Libre eBook Reader Pro. Borders also revealed eBook Store purchases are applicable to the members of the Borders Rewards loyalty program that dole out discounts at partner retailers.
“We’re kind of a sleeping giant,” said Edward. “We will take our share.” With themselves now on firm financial footing Borders would sure be making amends to its brand and its presence.