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September 09, 2010

Amazon is Getting Around: Best Buy Announces Plans to Retail Kindle Devices

By Tracey E. Schelmetic, TMCnet Contributor

In keeping with its parent company’s no-brick-and-mortar business model, Amazon’s Kindle e-readers, first introduced in 2007, have traditionally remained an online item only since their introduction. Amazon, it would appear, has made a decision to relent in a big way this year and allow several retailers to carry the popular e-reader. Last week, Staples (News - Alert) announced that it will begin selling Kindles at its more than 1,500 U.S. stores. Target also announced plans earlier in the year to carry at least one Kindle model, and now big box retailer Best Buy has joined the party and announced plans to carry the units in their stores. The Kindle WiFi (News - Alert) and 3G models will appear first; its larger DX version will appear later in the holiday season.

Best Buy is not new to the e-reader market. It already offers Barnes & Noble’s competitive Nook e-reader and several models of Sony’s e-reader devices.

The e-reader market appears to be in the process of slimming down and getting stronger: prices on e-readers have continued to come down in the past two years, while features and quality have generally gone up. This year, there has been a flurry of activity in the e-reader marketplace in preparation for the holiday season. Sony announced last week that it was introducing a new Pocket e-reader with a slightly higher price tag (News - Alert) but new features such as true touch-screen capabilities and boosted graphics and battery life.

Borders also chimed in this week and said that it had plans to lower the price of two e-readers it sells. According to the Wall Street Journal, Borders plans to slash prices of the Kobo and the Aluratek Libre e-reader by $20, in a bid to better compete against the Kindle and the Nook. The Aluratek model is expected to retail at Borders for $99. Borders also plans to begin selling two higher-priced, full-color e-readers in the coming weeks: the $199 Cruz Reader and the $299 Cruz Tablet. Both units offer users the ability to surf the Web and play multimedia files.  

Even Amazon’s Kindle has seen some price drops as of late, including its introduction of a WiFi-only unit that retails for about $139. Its larger 3G sibling retails for $189, and the largest unit, the DX, goes for about $379.

What’s certain is that as this market heats up, prices will almost certainly begin to lower even further.

Tracey Schelmetic is a contributing editor for TMCnet. To read more of Tracey's articles, please visit her columnist page.

Edited by Stefania Viscusi

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