Borders has a coupon up offering $40 off the latest-generation Kobo Wireless E-Reader (discussed in more detail here) for Borders Rewards members, knocking the price down to just $99. It expires Jan 17. It appears 2011 may just be the year of the $99 e-reader. While the Kobo doesn’t have all the features of the top e-readers, it is light and fairly simple to use, reads ePub files (including Overdrive library e-books), and $99 is a great price for a decent e-Ink-based e-reader. Note that Kobo claims the Wireless edition uses a “sharper e-Ink screen,” and I’ve seen conflicting reports whether or not it’s the same e-Ink Pearl screen that I like so much in the Kindle 3.
Through October 31, Borders is aggressively discounting the e-book readers it sells, offering $30 off, 5 free e-books, discounts on accessories, and other perks.
Of note, the Kobo E-Reader is $30 off, and now costs only $99.99 from Borders.com. That’s quite a deal for an e-Ink based e-book reader. Of note, it’s the older model of Kobo E-Reader, not the new Kobo Wireless E-Reader, which adds Wi-Fi connectivity (the new model is “coming soon” and still $139.99).
The Kobo also comes with 5 free e-books:
A total value of $75, the free eBooks include “Slow Death by Rubber Duck” by Bruce Lourie and Rick Smith; “Soccernomics” by Stefan Szymanski; “Phantom of Pemberley” by Regina Jeffers; “Eye of the Raven: A Mystery of Colonial America” by Eliot Pattison; and “Wingnuts: How the Lunatic Fringe is Hijacking America” by John Avlon.
Borders also offers a free cover with built-in light with the purchase of the Sony Touch or Sony Pocket e-readers. They’re also offering 20% off all e-reader accessories (including cases and covers) with the purchase of any device.
More and more brands of e-book readers are showing up in more and more retail stores (such as Wal-Mart and Target) nationwide. This gives people who may be unfamiliar with e-book readers or the benefits of e-ink a chance to see one hands-on and understand what e-readers are all about. I’ve posted before about various e-readers becoming available in retail stores, but with the recent news that the Nook and Kobo E-Readers will soon be available at Wal-Mart, I’ve decided to make a summary post detailing when and where each of the popular e-readers are available. I’ll try to update this post with new info as it becomes available. I hope it’s useful.
(Links go to posts giving more info on that brand of e-reader. E-readers should be currently available at listed stores unless noted otherwise — but calling your particular store to double-check might be a good idea.)
- Kindle (latest versions are Kindle 3 for $189, Kindle 3 Wi-Fi for $139, and Kindle DX 2 for $379)
- Direct from Amazon.com
- Best Buy
- UPDATE: Wal-Mart, as of May 5, 2011
- Nook (latest versions are Nook for $199, Nook Wi-Fi for $149, and Nook Color for $249)
- B&N bookstores or direct from Barnes & Noble.com
- Best Buy
- iPad (latest versions range from $499 for 16 GB Wi-Fi to $829 for 64 GB 3G)
- Apple stores or direct from Apple.com
- Best Buy
- Sony Reader (latest versions are Pocket for $179, Touch for $229, and Daily for $299)
- Sony Style Stores or direct from Sony.com
- Best Buy
- Office Depot
- Kobo E-Reader (latest version is Kobo Wireless for $139)
- Direct from Kobo.com
- Borders bookstores
Of note, you can view and compare Kindles, Nooks, iPads, and Sony Readers at Best Buy, making it a good choice for a one-stop shop if you’re unsure which one you’d prefer. Most e-book readers are now available in most large retail stores: the notable exceptions being no Kindles at Wal-Mart and no Nooks at Target yet. [UPDATE: Kindles are now at Wal-Mart, which makes it an option for comparison shopping.] Please let me know in the comments if I’ve missed any large retail stores where these e-readers are available.
Staples announced today that they will be carrying the new Kindle 3 e-readers in their retail stores “this fall.” They will carry the $139 Kindle 3 Wi-Fi, the $189 Kindle 3 Wi-Fi + 3G, and “in late fall,” the larger $379 Kindle DX 2. This should offer more people the opportunity to see in person how easy on the eyes and paper-like e-Ink displays really are. Until then, you can still see the older Kindle 2 models at Target, or see the Nook at Barnes & Noble or Best Buy.
In other news, on the heels of the introduction of the lower-price Kindle 3 Wi-Fi for just $139, Kobo has wisely discounted its own Kobo E-Reader (which trails the Kindle and Nook in speed and features) to $129 to compete. While I like the Kobo’s light weight and focus on reading, I still think the new K3 is a better value. But the lower price is a step in the right direction — you can go check out a Kobo at a Borders store near you.
I’ve spent a great deal of time discussing the emerging digital future of books on this blog, as it’s a topic I’m passionate about as both a reader and an author. But I’ve also spoken before about how bookstores don’t need to die alongside the decline of printed books, they can evolve and remain relevant, useful, and even profitable. And I also mentioned how Barnes & Noble seems to “get it,” and is doing a good job focusing on e-books and e-book readers (like their Nook), and is even offering a number of generous promotions for free e-books, coffee, and cookies — and they just lowered the price of the Nook to $199 and the Nook Wi-Fi to just $149.
There’s also evidence that Borders, America’s #2 bookstore behind B&N, “gets” e-books and is serious about embracing the digital future. Borders partnered with Kobo, which makes a nice entry-level e-book reader for $149, and which offers a nice selection of e-book titles in its online store. Borders is also coming out with its own e-book reader and e-book store. Today, I read this article in Fortune magazine by Michael Edwards, CEO of Borders. He talks about how he sees the direction the market is heading and the growth of e-books — it’s good to see someone who doesn’t just stick their head in the sand — but argues that bookstores can remain relevant in the digital age. He claims that “There will always be plenty of people who welcome the opportunity to read words on paper rather than staring into yet another glowing screen.” (Of course, that’s what I like about my Kindle compared to an iPad — the e-Ink screen mimics paper and doesn’t glow.) He talks about how bookstores are still a place for social interaction, discussing books, sipping coffee, browsing magazines, going to author signings, and more. He ends with a surprisingly forward-thinking paragraph:
“Ultimately, there’s no reason traditional bookstores and digital booksellers can’t co-exist; for all their common ground, each offers a substantially different value proposition. Of course, the onus is on booksellers to prove their continued relevance in the digital age. If they continue to innovate in the services and experiences they offer and the ways they engage the community, consumers will continue to make bookstores a vital part of their lives. If they fail to adapt to changing market conditions and consumer needs, they’ll deserve the empty aisles — and cash registers — that result. The next chapter is up to them.”
While I’ve heard that Borders is in financial trouble, I’d like to see a company with such a forward-thinking attitude pull through the tough times and stick around. Contrast the realistic, modern, and customer-friendly words and actions of B&N and Borders with the “Big 6” book publishers — who seek to “protect physical books as long as we can” by raising e-book prices, blocking lending and text-to-speech, delaying releases, and other anti-customer tactics.
Although I’ve gone over almost exclusively to reading e-books, I still enjoy bookstores and would like for them to continue to exist as places devoted to readers. It’s through forward-thinking and innovative ideas like developing their own e-book readers and e-book stores, and offering free e-books and other incentives to get people into bookstores, that bookstores can remain relevant long into the digital age.
Just a quick note to point out that Kobo is running a contest (ending May 6) to win a free Kobo E-Reader. To enter, just buy an e-book (each purchase is one entry) — there will be 5 winners this week.
Until you win your e-reader, you can read Kobo books on a Mac, PC, or various smartphones (software downloads here).
In other news, the Kobo eReader is currently available for pre-orders from Borders for $149.99, shipping June 17. It should start arriving in Borders bookstores in August as part of an “Area-E” section in the stores. Borders is also readying its online e-book store for June.
More info about the Kobo eReader in an earlier post here.
Just a brief post, as I thought it was important to highlight the new Kobo eReader. For those of you looking to make the jump to e-books, this device looks like it will make an excellent starting point. There is a good review over on Electronista, but the summary is that the Kobo eReader does a fine job at reading books, has a nice e-Ink screen and great battery life, and is a good value at just $149. The fact that it uses a simple interface and doesn’t have wireless or other features can actually be a good thing — as it makes it easier to simply focus on one thing: reading books.
Another point to note: the eReader comes with 100 free e-books pre-loaded onto the device. While those titles are all public domain, and thus freely available elsewhere, I think it’s a great idea by Kobo: it makes the eReader seem like a better deal (that’s like paying $1.49 per book and getting the eReader for free), and also makes it blindingly simple for a buyer to start reading right away.
A few tech specs:
- 6″ e-Ink screen (easy on the eyes, great in sunlight, 2-week battery life)
- 1 GB internal storage (holds about 1,000 e-books)
- USB connection (connect it to your computer and drag & drop files onto it)
- Only currently reads ePub and PDF formats
- Bluetooth built in
While you can get a cheaper $99 Delstar OpenBook or a more expensive $259 Kindle 2 (both of which I discuss here), the Delstar uses an LCD screen, not the easy-on-the-eyes e-Ink screen that most e-readers use. The Kindle is a better e-reader, has wireless access, a built-in dictionary, and uses Amazon, but it does cost over $100 more.
It’s good to see more and more devices emerging at lower and lower price points. The Kobo will be sold at Borders stores and can be filled with e-books from Borders’ upcoming e-book store (see Update 2, below).
One other quick point: there are rumors that the Kindle 2 will soon be available at Target and Best Buy retail stores and the Nook will be available through Best Buy (in addition to Barnes & Noble). I think it’s a great idea, since these devices have a “wow” factor and most people who try them out will be impressed. While Amazon allows a 30-day trial period (with no-questions-asked returns) on the K2, it’s still much easier to play with one at Target than order one from Amazon and maybe return it.
UPDATE: Kindle at Target confirmed, on Apr 25.
UPDATE 2: The Kobo eReader is available for pre-order from Borders, shipping June 17. It should also be arriving in Borders stores in August. Borders is planning an online e-book store for June as well.
UPDATE 3: Kobo reduced the price of its e-reader to just $129, but compared to the $139 Kindle 3 Wi-Fi, I don’t think the small price advantage justifies passing up the Kindle 3’s more impressive specs and features.