Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Borders Group reopens its independent online bookstore

Despite the overwhelming dominance of Amazon and Barnes & Noble in the online bookstore space, Borders Group today opened its own independent retail store on the Web.

The launch of the new Borders.com takes place a little over two months after Borders announced it might put itself up for sale.

Barnes & Noble, Amazon's chief rival, last week confirmed that it's studying the feasibility of a Borders buyout, according to an account by the Associated Press.

Borders, however, will reportedly move ahead with its next generation Web site -- along with related plans around integrating technology into its brick-and-mortar stores -- regardless of whether an acquisition takes place.

Back in 2001, Borders gave up its initially unprofitable online store, entering into an arrangement with Amazon instead. Under that deal, users trying to access Borders.com were taken to a site run in partnership with Amazon.

Borders Group reopens its independent online bookstore

The new Borders Web site features areas for books, music, DVDs, kids, BordersMedia, and Borders Rewards. BordersMedia offers online video interviews with writers such as Rick Riordan, author of the Percy Jackson and the Olympians series; and Joan Anderson, author of The Second Journey.

Shoppers enrolled in the Borders Rewards loyalty program used to receive monthly coupons and personalized specials via e-mail, which then had to be printed out and redeemed in-store. Now, members will be able to redeem these coupons online, something they couldn't do under the deal with Amazon.

Meanwhile, at new kiosks inside Borders stores, shoppers will be able to download e-books, burn CDs, and access and print wish lists created online by friends and family members.

A BetaNews check of all three major online book retailers this morning revealed Borders offers one feature that's prominent on Amazon and that B&N appears to still lack: audiobook downloads. Check out this example, which includes a prominent "WMA" download option.

Borders' audiobooks apparently use the Overdrive Media Console, which is a Windows Media-specific extension that enables authorized rights-protected media to play through Windows Media Player.

  • Blockbuster offers $1 billion-plus for Circuit City
  • Napster challenges iTunes by opening its own MP3 store
  • Now part of CBS, Last.fm will get exclusive video