Borders joins eBook fray with Kobo device and online service

Retailer offering device for $199 and 100 free classic books

Borders has joined the e-book war, launching a new device called the Kobo and kicking off cloud-based service.

The six-inch display Kobo retails for $199 and is available online and in stores and is stocked with 100 free books; mainly classic titles.

Readers can also choose from over 2 million titles from the Borders eBook platform.

Borders owner, REDgroup Retail managing director, Dave Fenlon said in a statement that over 100 publishers were already onboard.

“I’m particularly pleased that we have been able to make local content available by working with Australian publishers and authors to enhance the already extensive Kobo range. We recognise the importance of bringing Australian stories to Australian readers,” he said.

The Kobo supports ePub and PDF file formats and can hold up to 1000 eBooks, expandable to 5000 with the insertion of an SD memory card. It uses eInk technology with a battery life of two weeks, or 8000 page turns.

Some past reviews on eBooks

Thinking of joining the growing number of people using ebooks? Then check out the following reviews before you buy (*This list doesn't yet include the Kobo*):

Amazon Kindle DX E-Book Reader

In spite of its larger size, the Amazon Kindle DX ($US489 as of October 29, 2009) comes off as a surprisingly lean and elegant contender in the current e-book reader steeplechase. This enlarged version of the Kindle has a number of appealing features - including strong PDF support - along with a few missteps.

Astak EZ Reader PocketPro E-Book Reader

The Astak EZ Reader PocketPro is about the same size as the Sony Reader Pocket Edition. Both have 5-inch, 8-grayscale E Ink screens and cost $US199, putting at the small (and inexpensive) end of the e-book reader continuum. But some significant differences - pro and con - distinguish the two; and for all its extra features, the Astak's limited and rather strange font size options are a serious drawback.

Interead Cool-ER E-Book Reader

From its aspirational brand name (the ER in Cool-ER stands for e-book reader) to its hip tinted metallic case, the $US249 Cool-ER clearly strives to distinguish itself from the black-and-gray competition - and to a large extent it succeeds. Skinny (0.43 inch thick), lightweight (6.3 ounces), and available in eight cheery colors, this e-book reader resembles an overgrown iPod - not a bad role model for industrial design.

Foxit eSlick e-Book Reader

Foxit's eSlick e-book reader is curiously named because the device is decidedly unslick, with a utilitarian appearance that lacks the elegance of competing e-book readers. Ultimately, though, its looks are less of a concern than its limited functionality.

Sony Reader Pocket Edition E-Book Reader

The Sony Reader Pocket Edition (PRS-300) is about as inexpensive as e-book readers corrently get: $US199 for a slim gadget with a 5-inch, 8-grayscale E Ink screen.

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