Borders has entered the battle for dominance of the iPhone eBook market. Well sort of. Today Borders launched an official eBook app for the iPhone, iPod touch, and iPad. But it’s basically just a rebranded version of the Kobo app which has been available since last week.
Kobo and Borders are partners in the eBook space, with Kobo powering the Borders eBook store. Kobo also sells a physical eBook reader with an E Ink display that competes with the Amazon Kindle, and which has access to the Borders eBook store.
Anyway, the fact that the Borders and Kobo apps are virtually identical isn’t necessarily a bad thing — because they’re both pretty good apps. The main difference is that the Borders version has a predominantly red color scheme, while the Kobo version uses a light blue color.
Both apps let you browse the online bookstore, download free books or pay to purchase titles. You can also download previews of some works. When I first launched the app, it even recognized some of the books I’d already downloaded with the Kobo app — which would be kind of a nice feature if it weren’t for the fact that there’s really no good reason for anyone to keep both apps installed at the same time.
When you’re reading a book you can easily add bookmarks, change fonts, adjust the display brightness or lock the screen orientation. One kind of useless but charming feature is that when you exit a book to return to your bookshelf, a digital bookmark descends as if you were saving the page with a ribbon. It’s the little things that get me.
I was pleased to note that the Kobo app for iPhone was also much more responsive than iBooks on my iPod touch. Transitions from one screen to the next were very smooth, as was rotating from portrait to landscape mode.
There are more screenshots after the break.