Ann Arbor-baed Borders Group Inc. (NYSE:BGP) announced the launch of the Borders branded e-book store, powered by global eReading service Kobo. Borders’ goal is to secure a 17 percent share of the e-book market by July 2011.

Borders’ e-book store launches with more than 1.5 million titles, including thousands of free titles, available in a variety of formats, including ePub, mobile and PDF. The store launch follows the successful introduction of the Borders iPhone and iPad apps, powered by Kobo, as well as the introduction of the Kobo eReader and Aluratek Libre eReader on Both devices, which are priced at less than $150, have surpassed sales expectations.

To provide additional value around its digital offerings, the retailer will offer its Borders Rewards loyalty program members with benefits ranging from special gift cards and free shipping on certain items, to exclusive offers on popular digital series, double Borders Bucks incentives on the purchase of eReaders, as well as other valuable offers. More than 38 million members have signed up for the Rewards program since it launched in 2006.

“The race to emerge as a retail leader within the digital category is just starting,” said Borders CEO Mike Edwards. “During the past several months, we’ve been carefully crafting a digital strategy, one that has great content and a device-neutral philosophy backed by the Borders brand as its cornerstones. We believe we are very well positioned to come out strong and to ultimately claim about a 17 percent eBook market share by this time next year.”

According to Borders’ consumer research, convenience, choice, content and quality hardware rank at the top of the attributes readers look for in an ideal digital bookstore experience. The launch of the company’s eBook store will be complemented by its strong in-store digital presence through its upcoming Area-e sections, where customers will be able to try out a number of e-reading devices before making a purchase. Area-e sections, which will be in virtually all Borders stores by early September, will be staffed by knowledgeable associates, who will demo products and answer customers’ questions.

Research further shows that eReaders priced below $200 are likely to be the most gifted items this holiday season. The Kobo eReader ($149), which also comes with 100 free titles, and the Libre eBook Reader Pro ($119), both of which are priced to fit most budgets, position Borders for strong consumer adoption and market penetration. The Kobo eReader is currently available in select Borders stores and can be ordered on anytime. The Libre eBook Reader Pro can also be ordered on

The company also announced it is making available to consumers BlackBerry and Android e-reading applications, also powered by Kobo. Now customers can enjoy the free, easy-to-use eBook reading applications on the BlackBerry Curve, the new BlackBerry Tour 9630 and the BlackBerry Bold, as well as Android devices. These apps enable users to quickly and easily browse and buy e-books; search by title, author, topic, or keyword; access their e-book library; download e-books for offline reading; and enjoy several enhanced reading features that amplify the digital reading experience. Users can download the free BlackBerry and Android apps in the Borders branded e-book store at

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