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Borders taking preorders on $150 Kobo eReader

Hoping to gain a foothold in the nascent e-reader arena, Borders is selling the relatively inexpensive Kobo. It ships June 17.

The Kobo eReader officially ships June 17.

Not to be left out of the fast-growing e-reader and e-book arenas, Borders has announced that it's begun taking preorders for the Kobo, a $150 e-reader that ties into the upcoming Borders' e-book store, which is powered by Kobo Inc. The Kobo eReader was revealed several months ago but after a slight delay, the device will ship June 17 and is being billed as an ideal Father's Day gift.

As the price suggests, the Kobo, which has the same-size 6-inch e-ink display as the $259 Kindle and Nook, is something of a no-frills e-reader with no Wi-Fi or 3G wireless connectivity (and the screen has 8 levels of gray, not 16). However, it does offer a Bluetooth connection for "wirelessly syncing with select smartphones and updating your reading list on the go." It comes with 1GB of internal memory, and there's an SD card expansion slot for adding more. (Borders has full tech specs, on its site).

Needing sort of a hook to make its presence felt in the e-reader space, Borders' strategy of going with an affordable $150 price tag is probably a smart move--and maybe its only one. Late last year, the company took a stake in Kobo Inc., which was originally called Shortcovers, a spin-off of Canada's Indigo Books & Music (Indigo remains the largest investor in the company).

A lot of people have called for Amazon to put out a more budget-priced e-reader, though the biggest rumors in recent months have Amazon potentially putting out a device with a color screen. In terms of other mainstream e-readers in the Kobo's price range, Sony's PRS-300 Pocket Reader is being sold for as low as $149 at some online stores. However, that model has a smaller 5-inch e-ink display and is more compact than the Kobo.

We'll be getting an early look at the Kobo within the next couple of weeks and will let you now what we think once we play around with it. In the meantime, let us know what you think of the Kobo and its chances for success.