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All stories relating to Kobo

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Sony e-reading platform moves over to Kobo

Sony and Kobo have entered into an arrangement that will result in Sony’s e-reading customers in Canada and the U.S. moving over to the Kobo platform.

Effective late March, the Sony Reader Store will close and its users will gain access to Kobo’s eBookstore. New Sony Readers and Xperia devices will come loaded with the Kobo app.

In the first press release issued by new Kobo CEO Takahito Aiki, he said, “With a shared philosophy to deliver the best reading experience across platforms and with the best content available, Kobo and Sony will reach more people than ever before. Together, millions of customers across the U.S. and Canada will find their next great read at their fingertips – any time, any place, and on any device.”

The news comes days after Aiki, a former Rakuten executive, was named successor to founding Kobo CEO Michael Serbinis.

 

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Michael Serbinis out as Kobo CEO

Former Kobo CEO Michael Serbinis

Michael Serbinis has been at the helm of Kobo since the company’s earliest days, overseeing its development as Indigo’s digital content division (known at the time as Shortcovers), helping rebrand the firm as a global ebook retailer when it was established as a separate corporation, and arranging for its sale to Japanese e-commerce giant Rakuten.

Now, according to a report in the Financial Post, Serbinis is stepping down as Kobo’s chief executive officer. He will be replaced by Rakuten executive Takahito “Taka” Aiki, who plans to relocate to Toronto. Serbinis, meanwhile, will remain with Kobo as the company’s founder and vice chairman.

According to the Post, Aiki said in a statement that he is “excited to be joining Kobo, one of Canada’s most prominent brands and a true innovator in eReading.”

He added: “The Kobo team is extremely talented and, working together, I look forward to driving Kobo’s leadership in eReading.”

Rakuten officials offered the following statement:

“Taka brings to the role a wealth of experience in building and growing successful projects and companies, and has built his career on achieving ambitious goals and forging strong teams.”

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Kobo lays bets on new features, readers set to debut this fall

Notwithstanding the fact that, in its most recent quarterly report, Indigo Books and Music noted a decline in sales of e-readers year-over-year, Toronto-based tech company (and former Indigo property) Kobo is ready to launch a slew of new products, including a dedicated bookstore aimed at kids.

Publishers Weekly points to a Manhattan event in which Kobo CEO Michael Serbinis announced the Sept. 16 release of a new suite of e-readers ranging in price from U.S. $150 to $400. Serbinis also announced the debut of Kobo Kids, a subsection of the Kobo bookstore that would market directly to children.

From PW:

Kobo is launching Kobo Kids, a new e-bookstore within the [Kobo] store, that will offer more than 100,000 kids e-books, in addition to offering kids’ accounts (tied to their parents and restricted to kids titles in the Kobo store), safe search, “fun” reading statistics and awards for kids and an “allowances” feature that allows parents to set a pre-paid budget for their kids to purchase e-books.

While apparently convinced the children are the future, Kobo also seems to be hedging its bets on aspects of online reading that are, at best, extra-literary.

Serbinis also announced a partnership with a tech company called Pocket, whose software would allow Kobo users the ability to archive articles read online and make them accessible on a Kobo device. Other new features would reformat magazine articles for tablet reading, “reducing ‘the pinching and zooming’ readers have to do to read or see layouts.” And there is Beyond the Book:

a new social reading feature that adds a layer of information (it’s like having Wikipedia inside your book) that offers in-book links to info about characters, plots, the authors and more, available to readers without having to go to the Web. Kobo is also working with a variety of well-known authors (among them Margaret Atwood) and a variety of celebrities to offer Collections, a feature that provides recommendations to books and other content.

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Toronto Public Library adds Kobo to retail partners

The Toronto Public Library has expanded its retail affiliate program to include digital titles from Kobo.

Patrons can now purchase ebooks directly from Kobo through linked pages on torontopubliclibrary.ca. For each ebook purchased, TPL receives a portion of sales, which goes toward funding special collections and services.

In March, TPL launched an affiliate program for print books with Indigo Books & Music. According to TPL communications spokesperson Ana-Maria Critchley, 509 items have been purchased to date. Although the idea of libraries selling books is controversial, Critchley says social-media response has been “largely positive” and no formal complaints have been filed.

TPL is the only library in Canada that currently supports bookselling. Future plans for the program, which will be evaluated in a year, include a partnership with Victoria’s AbeBooks.

In the June issue of Q&Q, Vancouver librarians Shirley Lew and Baharak Yousef argue that libraries should get directly into the business of selling books. Read the guest opinion piece here.

 

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Apple adds social-media sharing to iBooks

Although most of the social-media buzz around Apple’s product launch today focused on the new iPad Mini, the tech giant’s ebooks program received a facelift, too.

The new version of iBooks supports 40 languages, continuous page scrolling, and improved synchronization across devices. Thanks to a feature similar to Kobo’s Reading Life, readers can now highlight quotes from an ebook and share them on Facebook and Twitter.

Aimed at textbook publishers, the latest version of iBooks Author includes embedded and custom fonts, fixed layouts, mathematical equations, new templates, and multi-touch widgets.

Both iBooks and iBooks Author will be available for download later today.

 

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How Kobo and Amazon’s new e-readers stack up

Today was a big day for device junkies and e-book addicts in Canada and the U.S.

At competing press conferences in Toronto and Santa Monica, California, Kobo and Amazon each unveiled a pair of new e-readers and an upgraded tablet device. The timing, not to mention the similarities between the new product offerings, shows how the two companies are competing very much in lockstep.

While the bulk of media coverage so far has focused on the escalating tablet wars (Kobo unveiled the newly branded Kobo Arc, which will replace the existing Kobo Vox, and Amazon revamped its Kindle Fire), both companies also showed their continued investment in dedicated e-readers, offering several new E Ink products and an array of pricing options.

On the low end of the price spectrum, Kobo arguably has the edge, at least in terms of novelty. The pocket-sized Kobo Mini, which retails for $79.99 and comes equipped with a 5” E Ink touchscreen, is being billed as the smallest e-reader on the market. By contrast, Amazon’s low-price entry is really an updated version of its existing starter model, with the price knocked down to $69.99 (U.S.). Both models go on sale Oct. 1.

Both companies are also releasing new touchscreen e-readers with “front-lit” displays, a technology that improves contrast and allows for reading in direct sunlight and low-light conditions. The Kobo Glo makes use of what the company calls ComfortLight technology, while Amazon is branding its new e-reader as the Kindle Paperwhite.

How do the competing e-readers stack up? It could be weeks before anyone gets their hands on both devices for a side-by-side comparison, but the specs provided by the two companies are remarkably similar. Here’s how it shakes out:

KOBO GLO:

Price: $129.99
Release date:
Oct. 1
Storage:
2 GB, with option to expand to 32 GB with micro SD card
Battery:
More than one month with Wi Fi and light turned off; more than 55 hours with light turned on
Display:
6” E Ink touchscreen
Connectivity:
Wi Fi enabled

KINDLE PAPERWHITE:

Price: $119 (U.S.); 3G model available for $179 (U.S.)
Release date:
Oct. 1
Storage:
2 GB
Battery:
Eight weeks, even with the light turned on
Display:
E Ink touchscreen
Connectivity:
Wi Fi enabled; 3G option available

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Kobo gets lighter, brighter, and more powerful with new line of e-readers

Kobo is set to announce a trio of new devices at a press event in Toronto this morning.

The new line of e-readers includes an Android-powered tablet (known as the Kobo Arc), a pocket-sized device being billed as the smallest e-reader on the market (known as the Kobo Mini), and an update of Kobo’s popular touch-screen e-reader that now has a built-in light (known as the Kobo Glo).

The Kobo Arc, an update of Kobo’s existing tablet known as the Vox, will retail for $250 for the 16 GB version and $200 for the 8 GB version. The Glo and Mini will sell for $130 and $80, respectively. Kobo CEO Mike Serbinis tells Reuters that they will go on sale in the coming months.

The launch comes as Kobo makes a big push in the U.S., where it recently announced a retail partnership with independent bookstores. The announcement also comes in advance of an Amazon press event later today, at which Kobo’s main U.S. competitor is expected to unveil an update to its own tablet device, the Kindle Fire, and possibly even launch its first smartphone.

From Reuters:

“There are players in the market — Amazon being one of them — that have Apple envy and they are going after this general purpose tablet market. We remain focused on the book lover and are really making a bet on the book lover,” said Serbinis.

“It is certainly the road less traveled, but what we have proven having just crossed over 10 million readers across the world in a matter of 32 months is that we have a great solution for those book lovers.”

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Book links roundup: Winnipeg comedian’s Shades of Grey parody takes off, Target discontinues selling Kobo Touch, and more

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Kobo expands to Italy

Kobo will expand its European presence this fall through a new partnership with Italy’s largest book publisher and retailer, the Mondadori Group.

The Kobo Touch will be the first of the e-reading company’s devices available to Italian consumers. The e-reader will be sold for £99 in over 400 Mondadori stores and online through its website. Readers will be able to shop from a catalogue of 4,000 Mondadori titles, plus Kobo’s 2.5-million ebooks. The Digital Reader also reports that Mondadori will run Kobo’s regional e-bookstore.

Kobo already has partnerships in the U.K., U.S., France, Germany, the Netherlands, Australia, New Zealand, Hong Kong, Austria, and Japan.

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Book links roundup: Kobo to launch in Japan, Rotimi Babatunde wins Caine Prize for African writing, and more

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