Borders continues e-reader price war

Retailer announces that price of its Libre eBook Pro device will drop below $US100 mark on Wednesday

The price tag for e-readers will drop below the $US100 threshold Wednesday when Borders starts selling its Aluratek Libre eBook Pro device $99.99.

The book retailer also announced today that the Kobo e-Reader will go on sale tomorrow for $US129.99, $20 less than its previous price. The Borders Web site today is offering buyers a $149.99 Kobo device with a free $20 gift card, essentially lowering the price to $129.99 already.

Borders CEO Mike Edwards described the moves as a way for "even more Borders customers to purchase e-readers at a great value."

Experts have been predicting for some time that e-reader prices would fall below $100, primarily those with so-called e-ink displays.

The Libre has an LCD monitor that Borders calls "easy-to-read," though most analysts believe such screens can prove difficult to view when used for hours at a time. The Libre appears to be more focused on multimedia use -- it includes a built-in MP3 player.

The Kobo device, by contrast, uses e-ink technology, which is said to be easier to use in bright sunlight, and offers many shades of gray.

Borders has described its strategy as one that offers a range of devices. It noted that it also sells the Android-based Velocity Micro Cruz Reader R101 and Cruz Tablet T103 devices on its Web site for $199.99 and $299.99 respectively. Both devices include 7-inch color touchscreens and Web browsing capabilities.

Borders may have started the e-reader price wars last spring when it unveiled the $149.99 Kobo .

Amazon.com last week started shipping an e-ink third-generation Kindle with Wi-Fi technology for $139, while Barnes & Noble has now priced its Nook e-reader at $149 on Wi-Fi.

Yankee Group analyst Dmitriy Molchanov recently predicted that the price of some e-readers with black-and-white e-ink display would be dropping to $50, probably next year, while some manufacturers will focus on multi-function color screens that will sell for higher prices. This fall, color e-paper displays are also expected to appear.

Many analysts believe customers will compare various e-readers to the iPad, with its 9.7-inch backlit LED display, starting at $499. The iPad offers a range of multimedia functions.

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Matt Hamblen

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