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Borders Enters the eReader Business, Kind Of

by Travis Harvey | January 8, 2010January 8, 2010 5:28 am PST

Upon the announcement of the Nook, makers of an eerily similar device from Spring Design have filed a trade secret lawsuit against Barnes and Noble.  Alleging the two had met to discuss ebook readers, Spring Design’s essentially claiming their idea was stolen.  Unveiling the Alex at CES, they caught the attention of Borders who have since announced a partnership for the device.

alexOn the CES showroom Spring Design showed off Alex, a device comprised of two screens; the above in e-ink and the below in color running Android.  When browsing content on the web in the bottom half, the e-ink screen is refreshed for easy-on-the-eyes reading and low power consumption.  Users can transfer and read ebooks, email, web browse, and more that can all pushed up from the Android touchscreen.

Yesterday morning, Spring Design set a $399 price tag on the device set to ship next month, February 22nd.  Moments later, they announced a partnership with Borders that would feature Borders’ upcoming ebook store on the Alex later this year.  The partnership dropped the price by $40, retailing for $359 this coming February.

Currently the Barnes & Noble Nook ships for $259, a three-digit price difference from the Alex.  Without a mobile connection provided through carriers like AT&T, Spring Design’s Alex relies solely on WiFi.  Admittedly, the Alex will do a whole lot more than its competitors and from what we’ve seen on video will tout an overall more responsive experience than the Nook.

The device is certainly unique and it’ll be interesting to see how the lawsuit between Spring Design and Barnes & Noble plays out.  Do you think the device will outshine the Nook?  Was Borders’ decision to partner a good idea?  Only time will tell.