Book seller Borders Group Inc. is entering the electronic book market, partnering with a Canadian digital book company to sell e-books on the Borders.com Web site.
Borders and Kobo Inc. will develop a Borders-branded e-reader application powered by Kobo that will work on most mobile phones and PCs and be available in the second quarter of 2010, the companies said Tuesday.
Sales through Borders.com will be recorded by Borders, which will pay an undisclosed fee to Kobo for delivering the books.
Borders CEO Ron Marshall said the company wanted to take a "device-agnostic" approach to selling e-books.
"We believe customers want choice," he said, adding that the platform will be developed fast.
The e-book field was dominated by Amazon.com's Kindle until Arbor, Mich.-based Borders' chief rival, Barnes & Noble Inc., started selling its own e-reader, the Nook, in October.
"It looks like Borders is starting somewhere with their e-book strategy, although as usual they're a little behind Barnes & Noble," said Michael Norris, a senior analyst in the trade books group of Simba Information. "They're smart enough to know future of e-books doesn't lie with any one device."
Kobo says it has a catalog of 2 million e-books, including best-sellers starting at $9.99 and more than 1.8 million free books.
Traditional booksellers are increasingly seeing electronic books as a way to compete against low-price retailers like Wal-Mart Stores Inc. and Target Corp. and online stores like Amazon.com, which have battled this fall over their prices for new releases in hardback.
E-book readership is small but growing fast. Forrester Research predicts 3 million e-readers will sell in the U.S. in 2009 and twice as many in 2010.
Kobo launched in February under the name Shortcovers as Canadian bookseller Indigo Books & Music's digital book unit. It said Tuesday it was changing its name to Kobo and raised $16 million via Indigo, Borders and other investors to spin off as a separate company.