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Newly appointed Kobo President and Chief Content Officer Michael Tamblyn took to Twitter today to post a rambling diatribe on why Amazon might not be the best call for indie authors to self-publish with. If you have a bone to pick with our favorite e-commerce whipping boy, you might take a depraved amount of glee from the complete notes below.

1) Indie authors take note: Amazon is, among other things, a machine designed to optimize product prices in order to gain share and sales.

2) Amazon, like every retailer that reaches a certain size, turns to its suppliers to grow profitability by demanding more favorable terms.

3) The Hachette-Amazon fight is an especially public manifestation of that Big Retail process. Nothing new there (Walmart, Target, B&N et al)

4) Some vocal traditionally published authors (but not all) support Hachette and criticize Amazon and…

5) Some vocal independent authors (but not all) support Amazon and criticize Hachette…

6) Defense of Amazon by indie authors makes sense on one level. For them, Amazon is the well-spring, where the self-pub revolution started.

7) But it seems like self-published authors believe they are protected somehow – that what is happening to Hachette won’t happen to them.

8) Some indie authors even muse that the best possible strategy is exclusivity with Amazon, leaving readers on other platforms behind.

9) In the long run, I don’t think that Amazon makes a big distinction between a publisher and an indy author – they are both suppliers.

10) Hachette and the rest of the big 5 sit at the top of a list of suppliers to be “improved” from Amazon’s perspective.

11) Hachette is first because one negotiation with a big publisher makes a lot of bestselling books more profitable. That’s efficient.

12) I don’t think anyone believes that Amazon will stop with Hachette. With a successful conclusion, all pubs will go through the same thing.

13) They will move down the list. Midsized or smaller publishers come next. (Assuming this all isn’t being pursued quietly in parallel.)

14) From Amazon’s perspective, how is an independent author any different than a publisher? Still a supplier, to be made more profitable.

15) The indie author’s situation is most tenuous of all. If >80% of sales come from Amazon, *no leverage when it’s your turn to be “optimized”

16) An indie author, like any publisher, can take her books away if in conflict with Amazon. But it hurts the author *way more than Amazon.

17) A reasonable author response to the Amazon threat wdb: “they won’t need to do that to us. Our prices are already where they need to be.”

18) (Indy authors on Amazon are penalized if their books are too expensive, so that’s largely true.)

19) But that assumes that the Amazon battle is about price. It’s not. It’s about profit. And _any_ supplier can be made more profitable.

20) If indie authors are 20% of Amazon’s total sales, then it’s hard to imagine that indie authors aren’t on that list to be improved.

21) But if the Amazon battle extends to indie authors, authors will have less leverage. Especially if they are exclusive.

22) The mechanisms for the Amazon squeeze are in place, agreements allow it. Self-pub inclusion in Select, Unlimited, KOLL are early examples.

23) Selling other publishers and authors, Amazon can survive without Hachette, but uncomfortably and less profitably.

24) With a diverse base of retailers, Hachette can survive without Amazon, also uncomfortably and less profitably.

25) Both parties having other options is why this dispute wasn’t over in a week or a month.

26) The litmus test for an indie author: could your income survive a conflict with Amazon? If not, it’s worth thinking about how you could.

27) To paraphrase: “First they came for the big New York publishers, but I wasn’t published by a big New York Publisher…”

28) Then they came for the mid-sized publishers, but I wasn’t published by a mid-sized publisher…

29) Then they came for the academic presses…

30) Then they came for the literary presses…

31) Then they came for me.

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goodbye_048

Kobo has experimented with many iterations of Android driven tablets, but has decided that their primary focus is going to be e-readers and apps.

The brand new Kobo H2O waterproof e-reader started shipping last week and CEO Michael Tamblyn said had achieved the highest rate of pre-orders of any other Kobo device. However, he also revealed tablet devices were no longer a focus area for the company. Instead, it will concentrate on three main e-reader models, the Kobo Touch, Kobo Aura and the new H2O.

Kobo has been developing tablets since 2011, with the advent of the Kobo Vox. The Toronto based company has done a number of followups, such as the Kobo Arc, Kobo Arc 7 and Kobo Arc 10 HD. Increased competition from notable vendors such as Apple, Amazon Samsung and Sony have relegated Kobo branded tablets to a novelty and not a must buy.

Tamblyn verified the exit of the tablet market by confirming “The tablet devices we already have out there will continue to be sold, but we are not at this point planning any new tablets.”

Kobo scored a major coup de tat when it reached an agreement with Sony to take over their digital book business. This resulted in over 25,000 new customers coming over to the Kobo ecosystem. Going forward, Sony has promised that their new smartphones and tablets will have the Kobo reading app pre-installed.

The future of Kobo looks bright. The company is focusing their energies on marketing their complete line of e-readers to international markets and refining their apps for Android and iOS. There really isn’t any need anymore to spend a copious amount of money, trying to compete against the big boys, when all you need is to have an exciting ecosystem and compelling apps.

Categories : e-reader, e-Reader News
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The new Kobo Aura H2O is now available in Canada at major bookstores such as Chapters and Indigo. Americans who have pre-ordered it from the main Kobo website have their units shipped out today and international markets will be getting it soon.

Kobo has an obsession on what constitutes the perfect e-reading experience and they have been feverishly working towards this ideal. They have slowly been evolving their product line to fall in line with the quintessential five B’s of bookselling; Bath, Backyard, Bedroom, Bus and Beach.

The brand new Kobo Aura H2O e-Reader is the most complete device the Toronto based company has ever released. It was designed to be able be completely submerged in five meters of water, for up to fifty minutes, which finally allows users to safely read in the bath and beach.

We spoke to Kobo CEO Michael Tamblyn in prelude to the formal unveiling and he mentioned that “The H2O follows the same design principles of the Kobo Aura. When the Aura first came out we expected that the premium 6.8 inch screen would only account for 2% of our companies sales, and within a few months it captured 25%. We are hoping to replicate the success of the Aura with the H2O, which is slimmer, lighter and can be used on vacations.”

Are you intending on purchasing the Kobo Aura H2O? We have done extensive videos documenting the entire e-reader and what it is capable of. Check out the unboxing, review, underwater test and eBook loading tutorials below.


Categories : e-reader, e-Reader News
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Kobo has announced that they have formed a new partnership with Bol.com, the largest provider of eBooks in the Netherlands and Belgium. Starting today, customers will be able to order the entire Kobo Arc line of tablets and modern e-readers like the Kobo Aura and Aura HD directly on the Bol website. This agreement though, goes far beyond e-readers and may be a blueprint of how Kobo forms relationships with eBook retails going forward.

Bol.com introduced digital reading in the Netherlands and Belgium five years ago, and since then has experienced amazing growth. In addition to the 1.2 million eReaders sold in the Netherlands, customers can also read their eBooks digitally via tablets and smartphones. The selection of eBooks has grown enormously over the past few years. One in seven non-fiction books sold in the Netherlands is digital.

Every so often, a Kobo press release hits the Good e-Reader offices, and it normally involves them establishing new relationships with booksellers to get their e-readers in as many retail channels as possible. One specific element on the official press release piqued my interest “Over the next few months, bol.com and Kobo will launch innovations to make digital reading even more user-friendly.” What exactly does this mean?

I talked to Pieter Swinkels, Vice President, Publisher Relations & Merchandising at Kobo. He stated “Starting today we are combining our libraries to offer the widest selection possible in the Netherlands and Belgium. This takes some time; the transition has begun and should be complete very soon. As well, customers will be able to buy books across the two platforms (bol.com store, Kobo store, Kobo device store, apps stores) and be able to access them through one cloud-based library (the Kobo library), they will have the full regular Kobo experience, including Reading Life, Notes and Bookmark Synchronization. We will continue to have the Dutch version of the global Kobo apps for all platforms, but also in coming weeks expect to launch a special bol.com-Kobo app.”

He went on to specifically address Sony users “Customers using a Sony device from bol.com will continue to have the experience they have now, so they’ll buy on the bol.com site and download their purchase with Adobe DE or Watermark. They will also be able to access those books on Kobo devices and apps, with their bol.com or Kobo account. In other words, we’re completely connecting the two platforms and creating one, seamless experience of searching, buying and reading. This is a tremendous departure from the previous bol.com experience, which was, as you write, basically a side loading experience.”

So what we are seeing now with the Bol partnership is Kobo willingly including another retailers digital library into their own. This might appeal towards other online booksellers such as Txtr.

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Kobo has ironed out an agreement with  Blake eLearning to make more than 120 of their award-winning Reading Eggs eBooks available in the Kobo Kids Store.  This marks the first occasion the books are digitized  outside of the Reading Eggs program and are available exclusively on Kobo.

Developed by a highly experienced team of educational teachers, writers and developers, the Reading Eggs program focuses on a core reading curriculum of phonics and word memorization so that kids learn skills and strategies essential for sustained reading success. It directly supports what children learn at school and will help to improve a child’s results at school.

If you want to see what all of the fuss is about and you have a Kobo Tablet or their official app, Reading Eggs is offering a bundle of 4 free educational eBooks.

Categories : E-Book News
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The Kobo H20 is shipping this October and is the first time the Canadian based company has marketed a waterproof device. Many people are asking the question, is this all they have coming out in 2014, and should I wait until 2015 to buy a new e-reader?

Kobo has confirmed that the H20 is the only device they have to be released in 2014. In an interview CEO Michael Tamblyn, he said that their tablet lineup is still very competitive with everything else available on the market, there was no need to give it a refresh.

Most hardware companies who are heavily invested in selling eBooks have mostly all unveiled their lineup for 2014. The Samsung Galaxy Tab 4 Nook was the sole hardware upgrade this year from Barnes and Noble and is actually a very solid device. Kobo has their H20 and Amazon is the only X factor. My sources at Lab126, the R&D division responsible all Amazon hardware have said that two new e-readers and three tablets are all ready to go. The tablets will have more synergy with the Fire TV and the Fire Phone, and give people a reason to go all Amazon, like people go all-in with Apple.

What does Kobo have planned for 2015? They rarely tell media people in advance because it gives a competitive edge to Onyx, Pocketbook, Ectaco, and Icarus.  I do have a bit of insider information that points to what they are planning though.

Kobo outsources all of their hardware design and manufacturing to Nettronix Inc. They are based in Taiwan and have involved in the e-reader space since the very beginning. Last month they demoed a new e-reader that used the same shell and internal components of the Kobo Aura HD.  The main difference is that it was utilizing technology from Wacom, which made it compatible with an official stylus.  This allows you to have the ability to take notes, make highlights and annotations with pinpoint precision.  Will the next iteration of the 6.8 inch Aura finally be a viable note taking e-reader?

Sony made note taking fashionable with all of their e-readers in the past four years. A large segment of readers found a stylus to be a bit more intuitive, instead of relying exclusively with the touchscreen. Sony recently abandoned making consumer e-readers and closed down their Reader Store all over the world.   This leaves a void in the marketplace for a company to market an affordable e-reader that comes with a stylus and has modern internal components.

Everyone involved in the e-reader sector is paying close attention to the ravenous demand for the Sony Digital Paper (DPT-S1). This is a device aimed at the business crowd and has a hefty pricetag of $1,100. Netronix is hoping to convince Kobo that a more affordable 6.8 version would sell to your average customer.

Kobo has always invested heavily in their consumer division with selling eBooks and making low cost e-readers. A Wacom enabled e-reader could potentially expand their base further into the education market and into making it a viable business tool.

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Kobo Aura H2O water

The Kobo Aura H2O e-reader is coming out in October and the main selling point is the waterproof screen. Earlier in the week we conducted an underwater test to see how the unit performed. Today, due to extensive requests on our YouTube Channel, we are conducting an underwater Glowlight test.

A waterproof e-reader will likely be used while taking a bath. Often the lights are dimmed, or shut off completely and the only illumination comes from candles or the e-reader itself. If an e-reader is submerged or wet, does it affect the brightness of the front-lit display? Does the light become muted while underwater? The video below answers all of these questions.


Categories : e-reader, e-Reader News
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icarus illumina and kobo aura

Welcome to another Good e-Reader Comparison Video! Today we take a look at the brand new Icarus Illumina second generation and the Kobo Aura.

The premise of this comparison is to take a look at ePub eBooks and PDF documents. Both of these devices handle these formats in completely different ways. The Kobo Aura does a splendid job in handling PDF files, with their preview window pane and ability to pinch and zoom. The Icarus really stutters with large PDF files, but does have a neat ability to increase the darkness of an image, but manually adjusting the gray scale.


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Kobo has released a new version of reading app for Android, that has a brand new rendering engine for eBooks. This will allow you to have faster page turns and more options to enjoy your ePub and ePub 3 files.

Improvements include

Better display support for more accurate rendering in EPUB/EPUB3 files.
Support for EPUBs with embedded audio.
Improved loading speed for many books.
Immersive full-screen mode on supported Android 4.4 (KitKat) devices.
Stability improvements for Fixed Layout EPUBs

I dig the fact large screen tablet owners can finally read in full screen mode. Kobo does not have a ton of interactive books yet, that can really take advantage of multimedia aspects such as audio and video. They are setting the stage for a new wave of content hopefully available soon. Download the new and improved Kobo Books for Android, from the Good e-Reader App Store.


Categories : e-reader, e-Reader News
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Dr Seuss big
Kids ebooks have been slow to take off, despite the great content coming out from companies like iStoryTime and Scholastic. But Kobo, whose Kobo Kids’ Store offers younger readers a catalog of over 100,000 ebook titles, recenlty secured a deal that would add some of the most beloved children’s books of all time to its catalog. This week, Kobo announced that it would offer 40 of Dr. Seuss’ most well-known and admired titles for children, adding that content to the already dynamic ebook offerings for kids through Kobo devices and the Kobo app.

“Theodor Geisel, aka Dr. Seuss, expanded our idea of what a children’s book could be. Through fantastical worlds and text both silly and inspiring, Dr. Seuss has always played and continues to play a part in igniting the imaginations of young readers,”said Michael Tamblyn, President and Chief Content Officer, Kobo, in a press release. “It is a part of childhood that every parent looks forward to passing on to their kids and we couldn’t be more pleased to be bringing these essential books to young readers in digital form.”

This offering comes at a time when studies still demonstrate that younger readers tend to not only prefer print when reading self-selected texts, but an alarming study also showed a decrease in reading comprehension when kids were required to read digital editions (as opposed to having selected the ebook for themselves). But why the push for children’s ebooks if they prefer print and perform better with paper? Because the educational landscape is changing dramatically, especially for higher education, and students who aren’t equipped to navigate an environment where their coursework is on device screens may find themselves at a disadvantage. By introducing ebooks at an early age and helping students remain focused on the book throughout its use, these readers will grow up to be better suited to the expectations of an increasing number of colleges and universities.

2011-10-02-11-14-27-Library director Erin Comeau with Kobo eReader

Kobo is giving $5.00 to libraries for every customer they refer to the platform as part of a new program. Overdrive, Baker & Taylor and 3M Cloud are all offering the ability for patrons to purchase eBooks from Penguin and Simon and Schuster. When books are purchased, retailers such as Kobo actually fulfill the order.

If a customer wants to purchase a personal copy of the title – perhaps because the waiting list is too long, or they want permanent access to the eBook – they will simply click “Buy it Now” and be taken to Kobo to purchase the title. Titles purchased via Kobo are for personal use only and cannot be donated to the library’s collection. An 8% affiliate credit of the total purchase amount will be credited back to your library to use toward your digital collection development.

When a customer clicks the Buy it Now button they have different options to buy the title from a few different resellers. Kobo is betting on libraries to promote their ecosystem, rather than the competition with a straight $5.00 referral fee. This credit will be sent straight to the library and is only paid if the customer is new to Kobo, existing users are disqualified.

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Kobo has released a major new update for their current generation line of e-readers. Owners of the Kobo Glo, Kobo Aura and Kobo Aura HD should notice the availability of the 3.50 update, which fixes a myriad of bugs and adds new features.

The Kobo internet browser should now provide a more smoother experience, which will hopefully get more people using it. They also remedied the speed in which syncing is accomplished. Syncing is important because it does a ton of different things in the background. It checks to see if you made any purchases on other devices and downloads books right to your e-reader. If there is a new firmware update, it will also fetch all of the data from the main Kobo server.

Some other fixes include the support for new Adobe RMSDK, long paragraph bug fixed for Epubs and the frontlight returns to the same level as before waking the device from sleep or unplugging from a PC.

Kobo has also updated their for PC app, that allows you to shop for books and deliver them to your reader.

If you hit the sync button on your Glo, Aura or Aura HD e-Readers you should be notified that a new update is available. If you don’t see the update yet, Kobo often distributes them in a staggered release, so millions aren’t downloading it at once.

Categories : e-reader, e-Reader News
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kobo-writing-life
When Amazon introduced KDP Select, the exclusive program that offered indie authors extra benefits for only selling the ebook through their platform, critics argued that Amazon was encouraging authors to forfeit the ability to sell their books in other locations, thus hurting their overall careers. In exchange for incentives such as paid royalties when Kindle owners borrowed the books, authors were not allowed to list their ebooks for sale anywhere else, including their own websites, and were not able to use platforms like Wattpad where users could interact with the book.

While KDP Select is right for some books and not suited for others, one of the unfortunate truths about self-publishing is that many authors make it as far as uploading to KDP, then don’t go any further. In some cases, their ebooks are even available only through Amazon, and yet are not enrolled in the exclusive program and therefore not receiving those incentives. Mostly through a lack of awareness of other opportunities and difficulties authors faced in trying to create accounts on other sites, many indie ebooks simply languish alone on KDP.

While sites like Barnes and Noble’s NookPress and ebook distributor Smashwords make headlines through their blogs and travel by word of mouth, too many authors are overlooking the opportunities that Kobo’s Writing Life platform has to offer. While perhaps not the household name that Amazon is, the two-year-old platform lets indie authors take advantage of the many benefits that any book on the Kobo platform can have.

Kobo recently released some quasi-specific data on its catalog of self-published titles, showing the 250,000 or so ebooks were currently listed through the KWL platform, uploaded by more than 30,000 authors from 157 countries. These books, which encompass a spectrum of nearly 70 languages, run the gamut of genres, although data showed that romance/erotica, thriller, and fantasy were the top-selling categories.

One of the chief areas that authors are missing out on by skipping over Kobo is the international reach the company has. Despite all the attention given to Amazon and Barnes and Noble, even the “empire” and the “mainstay” don’t have the global reach that Kobo has, with a market presence in nearly 200 countries, as well as an agreement with the American Booksellers Association to allow independent booksellers sell e-reader devices and ebooks.

Categories : e-Reader News
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