Skip to main content

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

Similar Articles


kurt October 11, 2010 um 11:33 am


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

Doug October 11, 2010 um 12:09 pm

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.

Kat May 18, 2011 um 8:33 pm

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??

Write a Comment