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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.

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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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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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Late last year Kobo developed an online kids store that has over 100,000 titles. There are plenty of innovative features such as safesearch and the ability to preload their kids account with credits to buy content, its like virtual allowance. Today, the Kids store has expanded from their Canadian roots and now is available in the United Kingdom.

Kobo has made it a point to offer a safe environment to browse and purchase kids content. Not only can you browse for books in age appropriate titles, but it will filter out non-kids books. Parents basically set up a second account in their child’s name, so there is no cross sharing of content.

The Kobo Kids Store was originally supposed to launch last summer, but was close to four months late in their official launch. This was due to erotica and romance titles from the companies self-publishing platform, Writing Life, creep into the kids section. This resulted in a firestorm in the UK, New Zealand and many other markets that had closed their Kobo powered store. All of this drama is sorted out and the Kids store is ready for international expansion.

Categories : Bookselling, E-Book News
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Windows Phone users have little options for quality e-reading apps. The only mainstream one that has been available for quite awhile was issued by Amazon. Readers now have an alternative with the advent of the Kobo Books app.

Kobo has been developing their Windows Phone app for over six months. The main reason it took so long to get their app ready for prime time was the revision of their app for Windows 8. Kobo had originally developed their e-reading app for Windows when it was still in beta and many users were unhappy with the overall build quality. Kobo went back to the drawing board and took down their app until they were happy with the end result. They reissued it in March and promised that a Windows Phone edition was forthcoming, and now its publically available.

The Kobo Windows Phone app is quite solid, it allows users to tap into an ecosystem of over 4 million eBooks, kids books, comics and graphic novels. This app has a larger international footprint than Amazon, it will work in more countries to buy and read books.

Categories : E-Book News
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Kobo is discounting their entire lineup of tablets in preparation for Fathers Day. Customers in Canada will be able to save $30 off the Kobo Arc 7HD 16GB, $50 off the Kobo Arc 7 HD 32GB, and $100 off the Kobo Arc 10HD. The offer is available at Indigo, Chapters, Coles, Future Shop, Best Buy, Staples and The Source from May 28 – June 18.

When customers purchase one of these new tablets they will get six digital magazines for free via the Kobo Magazine Store.  These include -  Golf Digest (June), Wired (June), Popular Science Digest (June), Field & Stream (June), Men’s Fitness (June), The Hockey News (May).

Kobo tends to give discounts like this each major holiday, the last one was Mothers Day. The Canadian based company should be announcing their next generation hardware devices in October.

Categories : Tablet PC News
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Todd Humphrey the EVP of Business Development at Kobo Books has left the company. He worked for Kobo from 2010 to 2014, where was responsible for all worldwide business development activities for Kobo, including OEM’s, retailer’s and wireless providers.

Todd has joined former Kobo CEO Michael Serbinis in a new stealth startup called The Everlong Project. Not much is known about the company, but they seem to be involved in wearable technology in the health sector. On the companies official blog page they do illuminate a bit on what they are doing with the statement “IOT is going to revolutionize how we manage our health, but the real trick is not in all of the various data-emitting, wearable devices. As someone who once saw 100′s of eReaders at CES (what we affectionately called the eReader ghetto) and then saw that turn to dozens, then 3-4 and eventually…you know the drill. It’s not about the hardware, ultimately. It’s not even in the data. The data on its own will be almost useless. It’s in the services that use that data, and engage consumers, and keep them coming back. If there are any people out there who actually, regularly, use their FitBit dashboard, and find it indispensable….please let me know…”

Former CEO Michael Serbinis confirmed that Todd is actually the Co-Founder of the Everlong project by stating “Todd has joined as co-founder at the Everlong Project where we plan on building another great company.   As we are just rounding out Month 2, doubling our space, growing the team, and working toward launch – it’s great timing.”

We should be hearing more about the Everlong project when they formally announce their first product in early 2015.

Categories : Technology
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Kobo has been making e-readers since 2010 and diversified into tablets in 2011. Their earliest e-ink devices were fairly basic and through dedication to reading their latest models are very solid. Today, we look at the evolution of the Kobo brand and how their e-Readers have changed overtime.

The Kobo e-Reader

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The first Kobo e-Reader became available in Canada and the US on May 1 2010. It featured a 6 inch with a  resolution of 600 x 800 pixels. This translates to a display pixel density of 170 (dpi), which is quite impressive at the time. It did not have WIFI or a built in store. Customers were encouraged to load in their own books manually, which hampered its ability to compete against Amazon. The pricing strategy of the original Kobo, at USD$ 149, was to rival the Amazon Kindle, which was USD$ 110 more expensive.  However, in June 2010, just after the Kobo was released, Amazon dropped the price of the Kindle to USD$189.

Chapters Indigo was an early investor of Kobo, contributing close to $150 million to assist them in developing e-readers and an online bookstore.

The Kobo WIFI

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The Kobo WIFI edition was released on October 15th 2010. This was only a few months after the original Kobo e-Reader launched and the company had to bow to customer demands to buy eBooks right on the device.  It featured a slightly improved processor and support for a 32 GB SD Card. This marked the first time Kobo experimented with different colors, offering a white, black and lilac version with a quilted cover on the back.

The e-reader visually was a carbon copy of their first e-reader. It had a rather flimsy D-Pad that was used to navigate settings menus. It also had physical buttons all over the unit.  The addition of wireless internet access allowed people to buy books from Kobo directly, which simplified the process.

When I reviewed this unit the week it came out I summarized “The one drawback of this device, is that it feels sluggish and unresponsive when you are navigating all of the menus and eBook store. You might click down, and it won’t refresh for over 8 seconds. This makes it so you end up double clicking, then your e-reader will jump menu to menu or screen to screen. This is one of the most frustrating aspects of both iterations of the Kobo reader. For us, its a deal breaker.”

The Kobo Touch

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The Kobo Touch was released in June 2011 and was the first time a touchscreen was employed in a Kobo e-reader. The Touch had a resolution of 800×600, which was the exact same as prior models. When it came to interacting with the screen, things were slightly more robust with the inclusion of an e Ink Pearl display.

Aside from the touchscreen which was the major selling point of the Touch, a number of software improvements were quite evident.  Kobo really marketed their new social media platform called Reading life.  It allowed you to share book passages via Twitter and Facebook.  It also gives you statistics of your reading patterns, how much you read, how often, and how many books you have read. There was also a reward system where you earned badges and achievements for reading.

When the Touch first came out my summary of the hardware review stated “Kobo hit a homerun with the Kobo Touch due to the quality build design and the robust functionality! I had the original Kobo e-Reader and the Kobo Wireless. This model seriously puts those two to shame! The touchscreen display should be easier for your average user to wrap their heads around, since almost all hand held mobile devices are touch screen. I found the older Kobo models to have flimsy design and the DPAD was awful, not to mention you would hit a key and 12 seconds later the command would go through. I hardly experienced ANY LAG at all when using this e-reader extensively.

The Kobo Glo

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The Kobo GLO was released in September of 2012. This was the first e-reader that really really hit the mainstream. It surpassed their prior models in responsiveness and design. The big selling point was the illuminated display screen, which borrowed a page of the Nook Simple Touch with Glowlight and the Kindle Paperwhite.

The Kobo Glo eliminated all physical buttons and relied in a capacitive touchscreen with a resolution  of 1024 x 758.. This marked the first major advancement in resolution, which really made text and PDF files look amazing. It was hampered a bit by the same processor  used on the Kobo Touch, a year prior. Kobo also amped up the processor, which raised it to 1 GHZ, over the 800 MHZ of the Touch model.

When this first came out, my review summarized “This e-reader feels like a modern device and has solid hardware. The back of the unit has a different quilted pattern than previous models. Advanced users may dig the fact that there is a ton of control over your reading experience and it allows you to load in your own fonts. The Kobo development team is also fairly active on the MobileRead forums and often directly answers questions and employs many people in testing out beta firmware builds. They also use this fiendishly obsessed e-Reader community to farm ideas on future features they might employ in automatic firmware updates.”

The Kobo Mini

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The Kobo Mini was originally launched the exact same day as the Kobo Glo at the first major unveiling Kobo produced in Toronto. In 2012 Kobo really stepped up their promotional and marketing campaign as the intention was to be the #2 ereader and eBook company in the world, next to Amazon.

The Mini bucked the trend of the standard six inch e-Reader and instead went with a more pocket friendly five inch model. It used e Ink Vizplex technology and had a resolution of  of 800×600 pixels. Underneath the hood was a 800 MHZ processor, which was the exact same as the Kobo Touch employed years prior.

The intention behind the Mini was to offer a cheap and cheerful device at $99 and was discounted heavily during its lifecycle to $29.99.  When the e-reader first came out I mentioned “It will be interesting to see how the market responds to a strongly marketed five inch ereader. For the last four years all of the major players have released six inch or larger e-readers. Other companies have released smaller models, but never saw any traction because of poor retail distribution channels and brand awareness. The Kobo Mini is one of the best bangs for your buck if you are on a budget and still want a fully featured e-reader. The company does a great job in appealing to international customers, something the other major players don’t do very well. Most lock you into specific regional variants of their stores and exclude anyone living outside a specific geographical region.”

Kobo Aura HD

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The new Kobo Aura HD e-reader.

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The Kobo Aura HD was billed as a limited edition e-reader that was released April 25th 2013.  It featured a 6.8 inch screen with a tremendous resolution  of 1440×1080 with 265 ppi. The front-lite technology also received an elevated boost and put Kobo on par with Kindle in terms of screen technology. 

The Aura HD was a runaway success and quickly accounted for 25% of Kobos international hardware sales. Readers loved the fact they had almost an extra inch to read their eBooks, magazines, newspapers or PDF content.

One of the best aspects of the Aura HD was the responsive main menu. The new screen has three main segments that displays icons for everything you have done in the last 12 processes. This gives you shortcuts to your most commonly accessed features, such as the web-browser, custom shelves, Reading Life, and ebooks. The Sync feature to fetch new content is now on the main screen, too, which is the only element that remains persistent. I actually like the more effective use of screen real estate. Rather than browsing four different sub-menus to access the internet browser, it will appear on your main screen if you have recently used it.

When this first came out, I mentioned during my review “When it comes to high resolution displays, customers often gravitate towards full color tablets instead of e-readers. This has been the growing trend in the last few years, and it’s completely amazing to see a brand stay loyal and committed to its e-ink line of devices. Simply put, the Kobo Aura HD has the highest resolution out of any six or seven inch tablet or e-reader in the world. If images and clarity of text matter to you, this is a must purchase.”

The AURA HD is still currently the flagship e-reader from Kobo and is currently my favorite dedicated e-reader on the market. It taps into an ecosystem of over 3 million eBooks and is relevant in every major country in the world. Simply put, this was the best, most complete product Kobo produced in their entire company history.

Kobo Aura

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In September 2013 Kobo released a six inch iteration  of the Kobo Aura. It featured a  6-inch e-ink ClarityScreen display with 1014×758 resolution, 16 level grey scale and a built-in LED front-light. It has 4 GB of storage, weighs 6.1 ounces, has 2 months of battery life, a Freescale i.MX507 1 GHz processor, and a microSD expansion slot.

Kobo employed a new PDF rendering engine in the Aura HD and the Aura. It allowed readers to have better navigation on the document by giving a small preview window to help keep you oriented.

When the Kobo Aura was released I stated “The Aura is amazing, one of the best e-readers ever released. One of the best features is the capacitive multi-touch display and the ability to really make reading shine. The screen is flush with the bezel and not sunken like every other e-reader currently on the market. The internet and PDF experience is the best you will get on a six inch device, trouncing Sony.”

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Kobo Writing Life is one of the strongest alternatives to Kindle Direct Publishing. Authors who elect to self-publish with Kobo often find themselves able to market their titles in more international markets. Writing Life is working on two new compelling features that are currently in testing and will be unveiled soon.

In the near future, Kobo will begin featuring book reviews for anyone that self-publishes eBooks. Customers will be able to write reviews and choose star ratings for titles and post them on the book page. This new system is created in-house and does not rely on any 3rd party review company such as GoodReads or iDreambooks.

If you are a current author who publishes with Kobo you can check out how it will look HERE.

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Digital publishing tool provider Aquafadas has had an ongoing relationship with Kobo‘s digital content consumption platform for quite some time, but news came out today that the partnership just got better. Aquafadas initially released its Cloud Authoring tool as a streamlined process for publishers looking to make their digital magazines and newspapers even better for readers on Kobo’s line of devices and on personal computers. Today, the company announced new features that will make the process even easier to use, virtually eliminating the need for programmers or developers in order to publish their content.

“While there are many barriers to entry in the world of digital publishing – time, money, manpower, the list goes on – Kobo and Aquafadas essentially break them down and offer publishers a way in, without creating more work for either party,” says Claudia Zimmer, CEO, Aquafadas. “By using Aquafadas Cloud Authoring to convert magazines into digital-friendly versions, all publishers need to do is provide Kobo with their magazine PDF files, which have already been created. The entire conversion process takes place behind the scenes and in the cloud.”

Using the same PDFs that publishers’ teams of designers make for print editions, Kobo can then seamlessly turn those into digital editions without delay or lengthy reworking.

“We’re extremely pleased with the power and versatility that Aquafadas Cloud Authoring offers in terms of digitizing content,” says Michael Tamblyn, Kobo’s president and chief content officer. “Publishers now have easy access to a global market across virtually any device or platform. Their digital offering becomes robust, intuitive and visually engaging – just as they intended. By offering publishers this conversion service, we are able to not only save them time and money, but quickly give them an entirely new revenue stream.”

One of the new features is the Guided Reading function, which creates a smoother experience for interacting with a digital edition by eliminating the need for touch-based panning and zooming. This also allows the creation of exciting features like an interactive table of contents and the ability to access a complete library of both books and magazines all from within the one user account.

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Kobo has slowed down their torrential pace of international expansion and is now focusing on software and hardware development. The company has received a dramatic influx of new customers, due to them taking over Sony’s entire eBook business in North America, Europe and Australia.  Could a virtual book club be next on Kobo’s agenda?

A new survey has been dispatched to select Kobo e-reader owners and people who typically buy a ton of eBooks.  It is worded as if the Book Club will be launched and they are asking key questions about the social media aspect. Most of the queries centered around connecting it to various social media networks like Twitter, Facebook or Pinterest.  A number of other questions asked if social was even important at all, or if you merely want to discuss books with like minded souls.

Kobo has experimented with community based programs in the past with Kobo Pulse. It was a short lived initiative that was only implemented in their iOS apps. It let people know how many people were reading the same book as you were and how many people have completed it. The intention was to foster community based discussion and to prevent spoilers from ruining the experience. They even brought in Gena Showalter to talk about her book to the community, but engagement was low and Kobo abandoned it.Could Kobo make a virtual book club succeed in the modern era? The company sorely needs a competitive edge against GoodReads, which Amazon purchased last year. Digital reading is a solitary endeavor, you buy and read the books in the comfort of your own home. Being able to socialize with fellow readers is a very compelling value proposition. If done right, it could be integrated into all existing and future Kobo e-readers and their official apps for Android, iOS, Blackberry and Windows.


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Kobo has just signed a digital distribution deal with Mcdonalds UK for free eBooks available in Happy Meals. As part of the Secret Seven promotion parents will be able to redeem coupons for free eBooks.

The promotion will center around childrens books by author Enid Blyton’s ‘Secret Seven’, published by Hodder Children’s Books, will be running for five weeks in McDonald’s restaurants nationwide from Wednesday 30th April to Tuesday 3rd June. The six ‘Secret Seven’ short stories being featured in the Happy Meal are: The Secret of the Old Mill, Hurry, Secret Seven, Hurry, The Humbug Adventure, An Afternoon with the Secret Seven, Where are the Secret Seven and Adventure on the Way Home.

Two additional ‘Secret Seven’ and ‘Famous Five’ titles will also be available to parents and children through the £1 book voucher redeemable at WHSmith or Eason and the free Kobo eBook download available until June 17th.

Last year e-book purchases in the UK rose by 20% and research by the National Literacy Trust highlights that while traditional book ownership has diminished in recent years amongst older children, ownership of and access to tablets and other digital devices has grown.

Nine in ten children aged 5 to 15 now live in a household where they have access to the internet through a PC, laptop or netbook and in the last year, home use of tablet computers by children of the same age group has tripled.

Alistair Macrow, Senior Vice President, Chief Marketing Officer, McDonald’s UK said: “Kids today have come to know and expect content in digital form and introducing free e-books to the Happy Meal is another way in which we’re creating choice and keeping in step with our customers. As a customer-led business, it’s essential that we’re always listening to what our customers want and providing them with experiences and added-value features that fit with their lifestyles. Since leading the charge with free wifi in 2007, we’ve introduced a number of digital innovations to enhance our customers’ experience including the McDonald’s UK app, contactless payment as well as tablets and digital floor play in restaurants. Our free e-books are the latest way for us to deliver a fun, enriched experience for our customers at no extra cost to them.”

Categories : E-Book News
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