Borders finally figured out how to do free ebooks

Mike Cane just tweeted:

Borders just changed their system so you don’t have to give them a credit card in order to download a free ebook. This is a big deal. It shows that Borders actually thought about this and realized what they were doing wrong.

I thought the matter was simple but given that several ebookstores still don’t understand, perhaps I should explain why Borders changed their system.

The point of free ebooks is to give people a reason to come back to an ebookstore. (Obvious, I know.)  But there is a corollary that seems to have escaped some ebookstores: you need to make this as easy as possible for the customer.

Borders used to require a credit card number before you could download a free ebook. (B&N still do.) I would have thought that forcing a customer to fill out a form in order to get a freebie would not count as making the process simple. It also irritates some customers. I, for one, won’t give out personal info to get a freebie, and I’m probably not alone in that.

I didn’t have an account at Borders and I don’t have an account at B&N. But I did have an account at Kobo. Do you know why? It’s becuase Kobo didn’t require a credit card. And becuase I already have an account with Kobo, it’s now the second place I check for ebooks (after Amazon).

P.S. I’m going to go download some freebies from

Nate Hoffelder

View posts by Nate Hoffelder
Nate Hoffelder is the founder and editor of The Digital Reader. He has been blogging about indie authors since 2010 while learning new tech skills weekly. He fixes author sites, and shares what he learns on The Digital Reader's blog. In his spare time, he fosters dogs for A Forever Home, a local rescue group.


  1. kurt11 October, 2010


    after purchasing my first ereader not too long ago my first step was to go to B&N to see if i could figure out the whole downloading thing and to see what was what as far as DRM/compatibility is concerned – starting with a “free” download

    nope, wanted CC info – emailed them and got a corporate response

    now i have purchased many ebooks and hauled in a few freebies but i have never been back to B&N

  2. Doug11 October, 2010

    B&N’s DRM system uses the credit card number to generate the encryption key. It’s simply not possible to download a DRMed e-book from B&N without having a valid credit card on file.

    Because B&N uses a different DRM system than the other e-book stores do, their e-books are only usable on a limited number of reader devices (mainly NOOK) and on NOOK apps.

  3. Kat18 May, 2011

    I’m still having trouble with this. I currently have a nextbook (which I wish I had never purchased, it stinks) and I am trying to download a free book from the kobo site but it won’t let me unless it takes cc info. Apparently the Android system still has some bugs to work out??


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Scroll to top