Still struggling for attention, Borders' e-reader hits $99

Posted by Raven Lovecraft

It hasn't gotten nearly the attention that its rivals over at Barnes & Noble and Amazon have received, but Borders wants to change that by slashing the prices of its e-readers.

Borders sells two of its own e-reading devices, the Kobo and the Aluratek Libre. From the beginning, they were designed to be low-cost alternatives to the other players in the market.

The Kobo launched at $150 when every other device on the market was at least $30 more expensive. But pricing pressure has caused other competitors to drop prices even more, making Borders lose that advantage.

The bookseller chain changed that today by becoming the first to offer a mass market sub-$100 e-reader. The Aluratek Libre will sell for $99 as soon as the price cut goes into effect. The more feature-filled Kobo, meanwhile, will also get cut from $150 to $130, undercutting Amazon's cheapest Kindle price.

Both the Aluratek Libre and the Kobo are very bare-bones devices. There's no 3G connectivity, no touch-screen functionality, and no other apps that can be installed. But at the $99 sweet spot, it will likely be able to attract cash-strapped customers and spur a lot of impulse buys.

As the #2 brick-and-mortar bookseller, behind Barnes & Noble, and a very low Web presence, especially compared to Amazon, Borders has had difficulty spreading the word about its e-readers. Additionally, it still holds deals with Sony to peddle that company's Readers at many of its locations. Even in its retail stores, Borders barely advertises the Kobo or the Aluratek.

The Borders price cuts were reported in the Wall Street Journal as imminent, but they have not been confirmed by the retailer and are not reflected in the prices as of today.