Borders Gets Into Ebook Business, Relaunches Shortcovers As Kobo Books

Shortcovers, an ebook retailer that I recommended to a Sony Reader owner last month, has morphed into something called kobobooks.com, and it’s now partially owned by Borders. If you own an ereader other than a Kindle, or if you read ebooks primarily on a smartphone, you might want to add it to your list of sources for ebooks.

Back when it was Shortcovers, Kobo’s prices were frequently competitive with Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and the Sony ebook store, and they seem to be pushing that competitive pricing just as much under the new brand.

If you own a Kindle, you’re out of luck; there’s a reason Amazon uses a proprietary format for its files, and it’s to keep you from shopping on other ebook sites. For most other devices–here’s a device compatibility list–the ebooks you buy from Kobo should work. (Yes, even on B&N’s nook.)

Before you get too excited, Kobo files are as DRMed as anyone’s, but at least they use the standard ePub format that’s encrypted with Adobe Digital Editions DRM, which is fairly easy to deal with. Also, it doesn’t look like any of Border’s bookstore coupons or discounts carry over to Kobo.

“Kobo International E-Book Store Launches: Why Amazon Should Be Afraid” [Wired]

Comments

Edit Your Comment

  1. HogwartsProfessor says:

    Nope. Nope. Nope. Not gonna do it. Wouldn’t be prudent. No DRM for me, no sirree.

    • diasdiem says:

      Well, now, let me think, who would want to put DRM on eBooks? Could it be….SATAN?

      • HogwartsProfessor says:

        DRM IS evil. Where have YOU been!? ;)

        I don’t want to pay for a reader. I like to read in the pool. A disaster waiting to happen even if the DRM doesn’t jack me up somehow!

    • Colonel Jack O'neill says:

      What’s the big deal about DRM, it’s in epub format, so whatever device can read that, you can read the book on that device.

      • halfcuban says:

        No it can’t. If a device is locked into a particular DRM scheme, then no, regardless of it being in the epub format, your reader won’t be able to open it.

  2. StatusfriedCrustomer says:

    What is with these baby talk product titles? I’m now on the pugu plan from kudu, from when switched from mamu to doodoo and used my hahee card on zajoo with my meepoo application.

    • StatusfriedCrustomer says:

      P.S. I realize it’s an anagram of book (first thing I check when I see a nonsense word is backwards or anagram?) But can any product sell these days if it doesn’t have a baby talk title?

    • Coles_Law says:

      “used my hahee card on zajoo with my meepoo application”

      For some reason, that line comes off as a really awkward sex ed talk.

  3. viper2000 says:

    Probably not strictly relevant to the article, but a rant about ebooks in general.

    You know. I am all for authors, and publishers protecting their works and products.
    Its easy for them with physical books. Odds are, they got paid for that book somehow, be it by a library, or the original purchaser, no matter where you got it (yard sale, used book store, friend, ect) Every copy of the book out there got paid for.

    With ebooks, thats pretty much impossible. What they need to do is stop pretending to sell us these ebooks. And they need to stop selling them for anything near the price of physical books.
    With physical books a majority of the price goes to pay for the printing, supplies, packaging, shipping, storage, ect.
    With the electronic version of books, the only real cost is bandwidth.

    So, stop charging for them like they are a physical book. they arnt, i cant loan them to a friend, or resell them, or use them to prop up the dining room table.

    Also, if your going to encase them in draconian DRM, stop trying to fool us into thinking we are buying something. You are not selling the ebook, you are renting it, for as long as you see fit. If you can take the ebook back from me by pushing a button, thats not selling it. B&N cant come into my house and take back the latest book I bought thats sitting on my table.
    If you want to rent the ebook to me for a specified or even unspecified period of time, put it in those terms and only charge a dollar or two. Not 10 or 20 bucks. Its outrageous.

    • ophmarketing says:

      When I buy a CD (especially online), I occasionally receive an mp3 download of the album. When I buy a DVD, more and more often I am provided with an iPod-ready copy of the movie. Why can’t publishers do this? Let me buy the actual, physical book for my home library, but offer a method for downloading the Kindle (or whoever) version for when I’m traveling. Do this, and I promise I will buy an eReader.

      • viper2000 says:

        Same here.
        When I am at home, I prefer a nice physical book to read, but when im out and about, waiting for an appointment or something, i prefer to read ebooks on my treo.
        If I could get a free ebook copy with the purchase of a regular book, id definately pick up a kindle or a (whatever it is B&N calls their ereader)

        • pecan 3.14159265 says:

          Tell me about it. I haven’t ventured into eBooks because I can’t buy a Kindle or Nook. And I can’t really read on my iPhone for more than a few minutes because it would drive me insane. I read really fast. But knowing that the new Stephen King novel is nearly 1,200 pages means that I can’t carry that book anywhere. I have to read it at home. Having it as an eBook would be helpful, but I just can’t justify buying a Kindle or Nook. I like my physical books, enough to not go digital with them. I like turning the pages, putting it next to my bed when I’m ready to go to sleep, and I know that if I step on my book, I won’t be potentially breaking a $300 piece of electronics!

    • Alter_ego says:

      Most of the books I buy for my Kindle are listed at around 15 dollars, and I pay less than 5. Legitimately, through the Amazon store. I’ve never seen a book that I wanted for my Kindle that wasn’t significantly less than a physical book.

      • halfcuban says:

        Except the savings is mitigated by the fact that you have no right to sell your physical copy of the book, or use it for barter. One only need look at Paperbackswap.com or other such places to realize that the long-term savings of an ebook are negligible, and the rights you’ve just lost aren’t worth the purchase. No doubt this sort of thinking will do little or nothing to stop people from buying these ridiculous things.

    • Funklord says:

      As someone in the publishing industry, I can assure you that print, paper, binding and shipping amount to, at most, 20% of the cost of producing a book. With electronic books, the other 80% of the costs are still there, editing, royalties, indexing, etc. I do agree that e-books should be sold for less than print books, but the reasonable discount given the difference in the cost of production doesn’t appear to be significant enough to appeal to most buyers (is 20% less enough for you?).

  4. El_Red says:

    Is there any website that sells non-DRM ebooks? Anyone?

  5. MrHacks says:

    http://xkcd.com/488/ Why do I know this link by heart?

  6. MrHacks says:

    The Pre and Android Apps aren’t even here yet.

    Nook still FTW

  7. mizmoose says:

    If eBooks cost a couple bucks less than a paperback and had no DRM I’d be buying them as fast as I could afford. A 1 TB disk takes up far, far, far less space than the same amount of books would take up on shelves. Such silliness.

  8. manta says:

    Even better, you have to use Adobe Digital Editions for their ebooks.

    Tried it on a free e-book offer I found. There no way to manager where the ebooks are downloaded. So not only is are the books DRM’ed, but they also HIDE the location of the files so you’re not even able to manage disk space properly.

    • Chris Walters says:

      On a Windows PC, try looking under My Documents/My Digital Editions. That’s where Adobe’s software puts epub files on my PC at least.

      You should be able to move or duplicate them from there to another directory and/or ebook manager, Calibre for example, so long as there’s no DRM on them.

  9. thisistobehelpful says:

    Pry the paper from my cold dead hands.

  10. captblackie says:

    This is a joke right? come on! Borders is one of the worst ran companies out there. They’ve pretty much have done nothing but lose money for the last decade. They have an uncanny propensity for make bad business decisions. Getting into the ebook business is just them playing follow the leader except they haven’t realize that you can’t be mediocre on the web. Are people even shopping on Borders.com? I don’t see a whole lot of reviews on anything so I’m guessing…hmm no.

    And on the flip side their closing 200 of their stores and all of those employees are going to get the pink-slip Christmas. I wonder how long it’ll take them to run this into the ground too.

  11. Ben Popken says: