Borders Group Enters E-Book Market

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Borders book chain is partnering with a Canadian company to enter the growing e-book market. Amazon.com and Barnes & Noble already have a head start on the small but growing market.

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MARY LOUISE KELLY, host:

Now, better late than never: That's what you might say about the bookstore chain Borders. It's finally entering the e-book market. Yesterday, Borders announced it's launching an e-bookstore.

Steve Carmody of Michigan Radio reports.

STEVE CARMODY: E-book, or electronic book sales, is the fastest-growing segment of the retail book business. And up until now, Borders has been on the sidelines. But it now says it's partnering with Canadian e-book reader maker Kobo. E-Book readers can use Borders' apps to read their selections on a variety of devices, including BlackBerrys, iPhones and iPads. But not with the popular Kindle. Border's CEO says the company's goal is to control 17 percent of e-book sales a year from today.

As Borders struggles to sell books in retail stores, Michael Norris, a publishing trade analyst with Simba Information, says this could help.

Mr. MICHAEL NORRIS (Trade Analyst, Simba Information): With all of the hype and bluster about e-books, only about nine percent of the U.S. adult population bought an e-book in 2009, and there's plenty of room for expansion.

CARMODY: Borders badly needs a boost in sales. The bookseller lost $33 million in the first quarter of the year, on top of losses last year. Only about 10 percent of books bought in the U.S. are sold by Borders, leaving it far behind Amazon and Barnes and Noble.

For NPR News, I'm Steve Carmody in Ann Arbor.

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