Your move, Amazon: Kobo announces a new frontier E-Book Reader
I always want there to be competition for the Kindle.
It’s a good thing…it drives innovation.
Frontlit EBR (E-Book Reader)? NOOK was first.
Lending to your friends and family? Again, NOOK first.
Well, while the NOOK line has been imploding, Kobo has been continuing to improve its EBRs.
Available for preorder August 30th is their latest:
While I’m not at all tempted to switch, I am impressed with the features…and with a marketing introduction which I admire, and appears to be working; it’s been years since I’ve seen the “Kindle Killer” stories in the blogosphere. 😉
I’m sure it’s not a Kindle Killer…but in the paraphrased words of Nietzsche (and exact words of Kelly Clarkson), “What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.” 😉
The price is $229.99, which is $60 less than Amazon’s top of the line Kindle Oasis…in fact, you could buy the new Kobo and the entry level Fire tablet for the price of the Oasis.
What does the Aura ONE have going for it?
It can automatically adjust the amount of blue light, meaning it has a day mode, and a mode which won’t tend to disrupt your sleep. While the Fire tablets now have a blue light filter option (“Blue Shade”), that doesn’t adjust automatically and it’s not on the Kindle EBRs. You can also adjust it manually.
Do we want this for the Kindle EBRs? Sure, why not? I actually have my
light turned all the way down when I read in bed…but I do have superior night vision, which may be connected to some color vision deficiency.
It has built-in Overdrive: borrow e-books from your public library easily. It looks to me like you set up OverDrive with your public library, and then you’ll have a choice of buying it or borrowing it from your public library (if available). Seems like it will just be a tap of a button, although it might not be quite that simple.
Why would they do that? Won’t that hurt their sales?
They say they looked at data, and that people who were serious readers both bought and borrowed books.
Yep…there is a “myth of scarcity”, that suggests that there tends to be only so much of a resource, so it will only be allocated in limited ways. In this case, it would be that people spend X amount for books…so, if they borrow a book, that reduces the number of books they buy.
However, it could be that they buy the same number of the books they did before, plus they borrow library books. It could even be that they buy more books…they borrow a book, like it, and then buy other books in the series or buy that book for other people.
Before I mention more features, I want to mention that marketing angle.
Kobo is positioning this as customers being involved in the design process. They say, “Designed with the help of our most passionate customers.”
Now, Amazon has clearly had customers looking at devices before they are released (that’s why they can have blurbs for the announcement press release). They don’t, though, identify those people in the way Kobo is doing. I think that’s effective. It makes people think that Kobo is listening to its customers.
More on features:
- It’s waterproof: something Amazon has yet to do (but I think we may see that in new models in September)
- They have a lot of options for the appearance of the text: “…weight and sharpness settings exclusive to Kobo, as well as the ability to choose from over 50 font sizes and 11 font types”. The Oasis has nine fonts and eight sizes
- The ONE weighs 230g: that’s more than the Oasis when it doesn’t have its cover (it’s 131g or 133g, depending on whether it has 3G or not). The cover adds 107g…which makes the Oasis in its cover heavier than the ONE without a cover…but I would guess many people will read the ONE in a cover
- The ONE has 8gb of memory…the Oasis has 4gb
- The Kobo has 14 file formats supported natively (EPUB, EPUB3, PDF, MOBI, JPEG, GIF, PNG, BMP, TIFF, TXT, HTML, RTF, CBZ, CBR). The Oasis supports these: “Kindle Format 8 (AZW3), Kindle (AZW), TXT, PDF, unprotected MOBI, PRC natively; HTML, DOC, DOCX, JPEG, GIF, PNG, BMP through conversion”. CBR is for comic books, and that’s popular
The other big difference is that it is, well…bigger. 😉 That’s in terms of screen size: it’s 7.8″, compared to 6″ for all of the current Kindle EBRs.
Honestly, I don’t think I’d like that better. I had an 8.9″ tablet (one of a bunch of devices stolen in a home break-in), and it was too big to fit comfortably in pockets in my “utility vest” which I wear on the weekends. I like the form actor of the Voyage and Paperwhite. On the other hand, my now discontinued Kindle Fire HDX 7″ isn’t too big, so maybe it would be okay.
Bottom line: I think this has some great features, and Kobo has been, I think, thoughtful in the design. Amazon has other great features, and the obvious one is that it’s compatible with my Kindle books. 😉 That’s by no means the only thing, though: Amazon’s customer service is so good (in my experience, and based on surveys) that it is a major advantage.
I expect this will drive further development on Amazon’s part, giving us Kindleers even better devices in the future.
Bonus deal: speaking of devices, two Kindle EBRs are $20 off at time of writing:
All-New Kindle Paperwhite, 6″ High-Resolution Display (300 ppi) with Built-in Light, Wi-Fi – Includes Special Offers (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*) $99.99 instead of $119.99
Those are both good models (I own the both). I like the Paperwhite very much, and this is the new entry level Kindle with Bluetooth audio.
What do you think? Which of these features would you want in future Kindles? Have you owned or do you own a Kobo? What would make you switch to another model…if anything? Would you have two different libraries to use two different devices? Feel free to let me and my readers know what you think by commenting on this post.
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* I am linking to the same thing at the regular Amazon site, and at AmazonSmile. When you shop at AmazonSmile, half a percent of your purchase price on eligible items goes to a non-profit you choose. It will feel just like shopping at Amazon: you’ll be using your same account. The one thing for you that is different is that you pick a non-profit the first time you go (which you can change whenever you want)…and the good feeling you’ll get. Shop ’til you help! By the way, it’s been interesting lately to see Amazon remind me to “start at AmazonSmile” if I check a link on the original Amazon site. I do buy from AmazonSmile, but I have a lot of stored links I use to check for things.
This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the I Love My Kindle blog. To support this or other blogs/organizations, buy Amazon Gift Cards from a link on the site, then use those to buy your items. There will be no cost to you, and a benefit to them.