Archive for kobo
Sony was legendary in the e-reader business because the vast majority of their e-readers had touchscreen displays and came with a stylus. This appealed not only to casual readers, but people who needed to make highlights and annotations with pinpoint precision. Now that Sony has exited the consumer sector, there is now a void to be filled, and Kobo is aiming to rise to the challenge.
When Kobo starts to design their next generation e-readers, the logistics and manufacturing is actually done by one of their longstanding partners, Netronix. Back in August Netronix was demoing a new e-reader at a tradeshow and showed off a new touchscreen device utilizing Wacom technology. What was most interesting was that the shell containing the new screen was the Kobo Aura HD, which is 6.8 inches and very distinctive.
Wamcom is well known in the industry for making digital pens and touchscreen displays that are often selected by artists. When I worked in the game development industry, almost everyone involved with creating 2D or 3D art, was normally using a stylus. Many of the leading comic book artists, whether they are making print or web-comics also swear by Wacom.
I have heard various rumors coming out of Taiwan that the new Kobo Aura HD will be using a specialized version of Wacam called “WILL.” The Wacom Ink Layer Language (WILL) is an universal inking engine and ink layer framework which connects hardware, software and applications. WILL is a technology that enables high quality digital pen and ink experience. Likely, Kobo will be employing the WILL SDK for its Linux based operating system and integrate it into their reading app and note taking apps.
What I think Kobo is hoping to accomplish is to make a consumer version of the Sony Digital Paper. The DPT-S1 is 13.3 inches and is legendary for its lightweight nature and stylus integration for editing PDF files. It is very expensive, normally retailing for $999.99. I think Kobo really wants to make a 6.8 inch variant and aim it their existing customer base and hopefully give old Sony e-Reader owners a reason to upgrade.
Kobo has just launched a new e-Book promotion in Canada that allows readers to buy three digital books for the price of two. This new deal is only applicable to Hachette titles and will be transpiring from now until December 15th.
The publisher Hachette Book Group, home to some of the world’s bestselling authors, was first off the mark to partner with Kobo on this offer to bring the most passionate readers a selection of top reads such as Burial Rites by Hannah Kent, Lion’s Game by Nelson DeMille, Beautiful Day by Elin Hilderbrand, Where’d You Go, Bernadette by Maria Semple, Broken Monsters by Lauren Beukes, and more. Click here to see the full list of Hachette tittles that are included in this promotion, in addition to their imprints, such as Orbit.
“This new feature makes it easier for people to enjoy more of the books they want to read at a better price, and we’re thrilled to be working with Hachette to launch the program,” says Anderson. “As we continue to work with our publisher partners, we know this new capability will prove to be an interesting and effective option to further promote their authors and series.”
Kobo has opened up a digital bookstore with over 4.2 million titles and started to sell their latest generation e-readers in Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and United Arab Emirates.
Kobo is selling the Kobo Touch, Kobo Aura and Kobo H2o in 34 stores in the G.C.C. region in the Dubai Duty Free Stores, Virgin Megastores and Xcite. If you feel like forgoing the holiday crowds you can opt into purchasing them online at Modvito, Souq.com and Jado Pado.
“Digital reading continues to rise across the globe and we’re thrilled to be entering G.C.C. countries to offer readers with best in class E Ink eReaders and eBookstore,” said Jean-Marc Dupuis, Managing Director of EMEA, Kobo. “The Kobo Touch, Kobo Aura and Kobo Aura H2O offer different capabilities and price points, so there is definitely something for every reader. G.C.C. countries are still in the early adoption stages of reading digitally and we are pleased to lead the transformation of this market.”
Kobo is an anomaly in the e-reader world because they perfectly blend ease of use, for the general public and super advanced options for the hardcore readers. The Toronto based company simply did not get to this point overnight and unlike their competition, they frequently speak with the general public, programmers and beta testers.
If you have ever used a Kobo e-reader, likely you are familiar with the ability to change the type of font you want your e-Book to use. Advanced users know that if you are not happy with the stock fronts that the e-readers employ, there is a special directory where you can upload your own. Its these types of options that makes the Kobo brand especially appealing to a broad audience.
The first Kobo e-reader came out in March 2010 and by September their lead programming team had established themselves on the MobileRead forums. If you have never heard of this website before, it is basically an online community where folks from all over the world congregate to talk about the latest news and share tips with each other. The Kobo team has been leveraging this community in order to solicit feedback on ideas they have for future firmware updates. Hardcore users can also talk directly to some of the senior programmers to give their take on new coding conventions or to present comprehensive analysis on problems they see with existing firmware, or just to give advice on how to make the software better. The Kobo team also uses the people who contribute great ideas to test the functionality of the firmware, as its been developed, so all of the bugs can be worked out.
Kobo has an ulterior motive with crowd-sourcing ideas and suggestions to improve their product. Their programming team is smaller than Amazon and Barnes and Noble and they rely less on focus groups, saving them money. This assists them in lowering company costs in this specific department so they can focus more on promoting the product and international expansion.
The global e-Book market is big business and has recently been valued at $14.5 billion dollars and is expected to reach more than $22 billion by 2017. Amazon controls roughly 70% of the North American and European digital book sales, while Kobo is sitting pretty in second place.
2014 has been a benchmark year in the e-reader industry, due to the rise of Android as being the preferred operating system. Barnes and Noble and Sony have always ran Android as the backbone of their devices, while everyone else tended to use Linux. The main problem with these two companies is that it was a locked down version of the OS and did not allow users to install their own apps. This year though, a number of companies such as Pocketbook, Onyx Boox, Icarus and Boyce have all released a slew of new devices running an open version of Android. This gives users the freedom not to be locked into any one specific ecosystem, but to have freedom to deal with whoever they choose. Kobo though, is not content to sit back and let readers decide who they want to buy eBooks from and instead is launching a new program offering a monetary incentive to these companies to have the Kobo app pre-installed.
Kobo and e Ink are partnering up to target OEM companies who are running Android to have the Kobo app installed at the factory. Many e-readers over the years are sold with no digital bookstore and force users to download their own books from the internet (which encourages piracy) or find a compatible store and use Adobe Digital Editions to transfer the purchases to their device. Its all of these companies that e Ink and Kobo will be targeting.
There is no definitive word on what type of incentives Kobo will be offering OEM companies to have their app loaded on their devices, but likely it will much akin to programs Kobo established at indie bookstores in the US and UK. Likely, the incentive program will have Kobo paying a small royalty for each book that is sold on their device. You can think of it as private affiliate program.
Can this program work out? It depends on the exact role that e Ink will play in the discussions. When it comes to e-readers, most of these companies that brand the devices as their own, have no role in the manufacturing or firmware development. Instead, they source that all from Chinese OEM’s or Taiwanese companies like Netronix. This is why when we review a bunch of new devices that company X has released, each one looks really different and the user experience is not consistent. This is because its far easier just to buy everything from China and stick their own branding on it and market it as their own. Linux has been the most popular OS up until this point, because these Chinese companies could charge extra to customize it. Now that Android is proving to be the big trend in 2014/2015, Kobo is hoping to take advantage of it.
There has been swirling rumors and speculation today about Kobo getting involved in the audiobook space. This was primarily due to a number of placeholder entries in their digital bookstore that had meta data that alluded to HarperCollins Audio.
Kobo has confirmed to Good e-Reader today that they have no plans currently to enter the audiobook space. The fact that some books had no cover art and mentioned Harper Audio was due to bad metadata that was sourced by HarperCollins on a number of new eBooks. Kobo has told me that they were unaware of this data issue until Good e-Reader brought it to their attention. The company said tat this error is being solved internally within the next few weeks by the development team.
I think audiobooks is the only missing piece to the global content offerings that Kobo currently sells. The rise of audio publishing is directly proportionate to the rise of digital distribution. In 2007 a paltry 3,073 titles were available and rose exponentially to over 20,000 published titles in 2013. The entire industry is said to be worth over two billion dollars, which is a huge jump from $480 million in retail sales in 1997.
There tends to be some confusion among new e-reader owners on what formats their new device reads. Numerous Kindle owners try to buy eBooks at a good price online, only to get disgruntled when they aren’t compatible. In order to solve many of the top customer concerns Kobo now lists the format their eBooks are in and whether or not they have Digital Rights Managment (DRM).
When you are browsing the online Kobo catalog their is a new section at the bottom of the description. It is called Download Options and lists the eBooks are EPUB 2, EPUB 2 (Adobe DRM), PDF, PDF (Adobe DRM).
When you buy an eBook with DRM on it, the title is only compatible with Kobo e-readers and tend not to play nice with any other device. Things get easier if you manage to find something that does not have any encryption, this means you can basically load in on your smartphone, tablet, e-reader or loan it out to a friend and not need Adobe Digital Editions to facilitate the transfer.
The new download system is live in most countries. We have confirmed reports that Canada, US, Australia, UK all have it, but sadly not New Zealand.
Boomerang Books and Pages & Pages Booksellers in conjunction with Kobo and HarperCollins Australia have engaged in a new pilot program to bundle print and eBooks.
Starting today until the end of January customers who visit a Boomerang independent bookstore or buy the print titles online from Pages & Pages will get a free copy of an eBook. This is the first time Kobo has played a role in this type of initiative.
There are only a handful of titles that are eligible for the promotion. You can think of it as a pilot project to gauge the viability of rolling out something more substantial.
The books that are apart of the bundling program are; Cleanskin Cowgirls by Rachael Treasure, Ghost House by Alexandra Adornetti, Kerry Stokes: The Boy from Nowhere by Andrew Rule, Last Woman Hanged by Caroline Overington and The Menzies Era by former Australian PM John Howard.
UK bookseller WHSmith has been carrying Kobo e-Readers since 2011. Sales have been brisk and the two sides have reached a new agreement that will extend the partnership until 2018.
During a recent earnings call, the bookseller has acknowledged that eBook sales have not seen the dramatic gains they have in years past. “According to publishers the rate of growth and penetration of eBooks has slowed with value penetration estimated to be around 15% – 18%, with growth closer to 20% than the 100% we have seen in recent years.”
Dispute the nominal growth potential of the eBook industry in the UK, WHSmith and Kobo are both bullish about the success of e-readers and multi-function tablet reading apps for the foreseeable future.
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.
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.
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.
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.