Apple squeezes Nook, Kindle as Borders goes away

NEW: The "liquidation of Borders marks a significant milestone in the bookselling market," writes Janney Capital Markets analyst Jordan Rohan in a note to clients today. The remaining mega-booksellers  won't necessarily boost prices; instead, "Amazon's efforts to lower the hardware price for its Kindle e-book reader," possibly by selling advertising, "only accelerates that shift towards digital," though this will likely eat into Amazon quarterly profits (the latest report due after market close today).

EARLIER: "The consumer loses" as Apple's "long threatened" new pricing policy has finally forced Barnes & Noble Nook users and Kindle users to make their online book purchases through Apple's Safari browser, instead of the booksellers' iPhone/iPad apps, writes analyst David Strasser, in a report to clients at Janney Capital Markets today.

Online book-buying for Nook and Kindle users will now involve "an extra step," an "inconvenience [that] could impact users of Nook and Kindle, who use the iPad as their primary device, and tilt them towards iBooks," Apple's own book system. While "an extra step is not as bad" as the total ban Apple-watchers feared, the move "clearly poses a risk to the explosive growth of the Kindle and Nook business on the iPad."

The move is Apple's "reaction to the success of the Nook [with] color and Amazon’s impending release of its own tablet," Strasser writes. May also be a sign "Apple is planning to increase its focus on iBooks, which to date has gotten very little traction."

Is Apple squeezing too hard? "Apple is apparently using its position as the dominant tablet seller to gain economics beyond its own products," Strasser adds. "However, it is important to watch this fight on a broader basis, because ultimately if Apple goes too far, and more vendors/partners pull app capabilities, it could present the opening for [Apple rival Google] Android to take share." (Could also attract US Justice Department antitrust scrutiny "at some point," Strasser told me.)

In reaction, Barnes & Noble's "Nook is adding new functionality to its Nook for iPad application. Via the website, Nook customers can order subscriptions that will be sent to their Nook app on the iPad, essentially getting around these new requirements. This is something consumers will easily do, since it is a one-time action that will set up a subscription for an extended time period." More from WaPo, UK's Inquirer.