According to TechCrunch, Border’s is trying to get into the ebook game with their own e-reader and bookstore. Another e-reader? another e-bookstore? So we have Kindle reader and bookstore, iPad and iBooks, Nook and the Barnes and Noble store, Sony’s e-reader and bookstore, Google’s forthcoming bookstore and now Border’s Kobo and bookstore. Of course, all of these bookstores have some form of DRM. Even those that tout the standard ePub format disallow certain privileges regarding use of these books in other readers. So there’s a bunch of different bookstores, each with their own e-reader and little way to communicate between them. Kobo is already entering a loaded market and probably stands to gain very little.
But… as the link above points out, they may have a chance to be the e-reader for the masses. Kobo aims to be the cheap guy on the block. It isn’t an unprecedented strategy. Remember, VCR beat Betamax despite lower fidelity video because it was cheaper. $150 to start means that within a year or so, maybe it drops to $100 or less. That was the benchmark for DVD player saturation, and could be a good target for Kobo. It may not sway hardcore readers from the Kindle or Nook, but they’ve already spoken and they are in the minority. Many people will buy the iPad but it remains to be seen if books will sell on it (I personally feel that the screen is ill-suited for novels). If they can subsidize Kobo with money spent on ebooks… if you can get Kobo free or $20 with the purchase of 10 or 15 ebooks, we might have something to talk about.