Borders is getting ready to jump into the e-book market. The company, which is second-largest chain of bookstores in the U.S., started taking pre-orders for a $119 e-book reader from Aluratek today. Last month, the company started taking pre-orders for the $149 Kobo e-reader. Borders also announced that it is on track to launch its long-awaited e-book store and mobile e-reader apps for the iPhone OS later this month. While Borders' competitors like Barnes & Noble and Amazon have long made e-books a central part of their business strategies, Borders has struggled to enter this market.

In an interview with the Wall Street Journal, Borders' interim president and CEO Michael Edwards noted that the company is "on track to launch Borders eBooks store and mobile apps tailored by Kobo next month." By the end of June, according to Edwards, Borders will also launch "an Apple application." The company plans to launch apps for the Mac, PC, Blackberry, Android, iPhone, and iPad. In its stores, Borders plans to sell up to 10 different e-readers.

Border's E-Book Store: Powered by Kobo

Unlike its competitors, Borders does not plan to run its own e-book store. Instead, it will offer its customers a "Borders branded eBook store powered by Kobo." Borders is one of the major investors in Kobo, which is a spin-off of Canadian publishing company Indigo Books & Music. It's not clear if Borders' e-book apps for the iPhone and other platforms will also be re-branded versions of Kobo's apps. Kobo launched its iPad app last week (iTunes link).

Borders is clearly trying to get a foothold in the market for cheap e-book readers. According to a survey by Forrester Research, most consumers are not willing to pay more than $100 for a dedicated e-reader. This survey, however, pre-dates the iPad, and chances are that Apple's tablet has skewed peoples' expectations of what an e-reader should look like. As we also noted last week, the market for dedicated e-readers will likely peak within the next two years, as consumers flock to tablet computers instead.