Breaking up is hard to do… Borders and Amazon part company

Like Brad and Jennifer, Tom and Nicole, the rumors surrounding the breakup of Borders and Amazon’s seven year partnership are true. Today, Borders launched its own website, after it terminated an alliance with it had Amazon since 2001. The execs at Borders probably watched the film “Sleeping with the Enemy” and got nervous. Good coverage can be found on this mashable post:

http://mashable.com/2008/05/27/borders/

An interesting part of Borders new strategy is their e-book offering. The website shows a tab for e-books, which takes the customer to the following page:

 

 

 

which is simply a link to Sony’s Ebook Reader, and its online store.  By distancing itself even further from Amazon, and hitching its wagon to the Sony platform, it merely hastens its slide into oblivion. E-books can actually drive customers into the store, instead of out of it, if the correct strategy is in place. For example, many readers will still be willing to purchase a physical copy of a book even if they’ve already downloaded it in an electronic format, perhaps to give to a friend as a gift. Borders could offer to apply some or all of the purchase price of the e-book toward the cost of the dead tree variety. Their challenge is to get customers in the store, and then offer them reasons to shop there. A coupon for a healthy discount off a book in the store (at least 25%) might do that, and this could easily be delivered as part of an ebook download. It could be for a backlist title from the same author. They may choose to adopt this pricing model in their alliance with Sony, but it doesn’t look too promising at this point. I can personally count the number of visits I’ve made to a bookstore on both hands since I got my Kindle, and that’s a drop of probably 90% over a six month period. So by embracing all e-book formats, bricks and mortar retailers like Borders can look at this new technology as much of an opportunity as it is a threat.

In related news, Amazon announced a price drop for the Kindle to $349. Curiously, though, it’s without fanfare. You’re not told the price until you click on the item. Maybe they don’t want to create another stampede?

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