Your move, Amazon: Kobo announces a new frontier E-Book Reader

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:

Kobo Aura ONE

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

Kindle Voyage (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*)

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 E-reader – Black, 6″ Glare-Free Touchscreen Display, Wi-Fi – Includes Special Offers (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*) $59.99 instead of $79.99


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.

Join thousands of readers and try the free ILMK magazine at Flipboard!

All aboard our new The Measured Circle’s Geek Time Trip at The History Project! Do you have what it takes to be a Timeblazer?

* 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.




15 Responses to “Your move, Amazon: Kobo announces a new frontier E-Book Reader”

  1. Phink Says:

    OOoohhhhhh I want one. However, I won’t do it because it has one flaw. It will not sync with my Amazon cloud and probably never will. They are competitors after all.

    I like the one lady’s quote in the video. “There is not another e-reader out there with all these features.” That is true. I think this blows the kindle away. I love the KOBO and it sounds ridiculous saying that because I’ve never actually touched one. I’ve been intrigued by them for a few years now.

    I tell you this. If I were starting out today with zero digital books I’d look very hard at KOBO instead of Kindle. Why Amazon will not give us more than the few font sizes they allow us to have is mind boggling. If I could meet Jeff Bezo’s my first question would be “why are we only getting, what 7, 8, font sizes on the kindle? KOBO gives their customers over 50 font sizes.” If he did not get thousands of emails a day I’d email him and ask him.

    I love this new KOBO but I think I’d like it better in a 6″ version. Awesome! That’s my word for it.

    • Bufo Calvin Says:

      Thanks for writing, Phink!

      If we were at zero point, and I’d had no prior relationship with Amazon, I’d be looking at the Kobo strongly as well. That, however, is not the world in which we live. 🙂

  2. Robert Anderson Says:

    Impressive features and specs. I would like to try the larger size. The Overdrive feature built in would a money saver, using the library more. Waterproof, not sure I need that feature.

    I so many books from Amazon not sure I could easily switch, but this device looks very good.

    • Bufo Calvin Says:

      Thanks for writing, Robert!

      Let’s see how Amazon innovates on the next gens and later.

      I would like waterproof. I often have my Fire in my utility vest and it could start raining. I carry a Ziploc bag, but it would be easier if it was fine without that.

  3. hsextant Says:

    Actually none of the features offered on the Kobo are very important to me personally. There is something to be said for it being water proof, but for myself how often has that been an issue? Not at all, but I could see where it would be important to people who take their e-reader outdoors or use it in the tub or pool. I have never wanted a different font and once I pick a font size I seldom change it so basically there would be 10 unused fonts and 47 unused font sizes.

    There is no way I would bother maintaining two separate libraries for different devices. I am too much invested in Amazon at this point to consider another brand of e-reader.

    What I would like to see in Kindle PaperWhites is a better touch screen response and a faster processor. I have a second generation PaperWhite and the screen is klunky and the device is slow. I suspect if I did a little house cleaning that I could speed it up, but I can’t say that I am impressed with my PaperWhite other than screen appearance. To be honest, I felt my second gen Kindle (the one with the joystick and keys and page buttons) worked better and was easier to use. If I am reading non-fiction, I prefer the Fire HDX or Kindle for Mac because I tend to do a lot of highlighting and notes. Highlighting is difficult on my PaperWhite and notes are damned near impossible. I am too club fingered to use my fingers on the small screen keys and for some reason my stylus will not operate the two rows of keys on the right side of the screen. All in all, I can’t say that i am overly impressed with my PaperWhite. I love my 7″ Fire HDX, and I really like Kindle for Mac and wished that Amazon would incorporate more features into it, such as selecting text across pages, page flip, and a library text search function. I would actually pay for an improved Kindle for Mac app. (I also realize that I am probably in an infinitesimal minority in that regard).

    The other thing I would like to see in an e-reader is the ability to handle Audible. I like immersion reading on my Fire.

    If I could only have one Kindle at this juncture it would be the 7″ Fire HDX (a discontinued model) but I would sorely miss my Kindle for Mac. I don’t think I would miss the PaperWhite at all. That is sort of a sad statement for the workhorse of the fleet. I do miss my old Kindle 2. It still works, but the battery only lasts for about 30 minutes. If it worked, I believe I would use it more often than the PaperWhite.

    I also believe that competition is necessary to keep Amazon on their toes, but I don’t see myself buying other devices at this point. I will also state that when my PaperWhite dies, I will replace it with roughly the same model, but if it is as klunky as my current PaperWhite, I am going to return it for my money back and just use the Fire and the Kindle for Mac.

    • Phink Says:

      hsextent, I too would love toe see the Kindle have immersion reading capabilities. Quite often I do play the audible book on my Amazon Tap while I read it on my Voyage. I just have to turn the pages myself but if it’d highlight and turn the pages for me, even better.

    • Bufo Calvin Says:

      Thanks for writing, hsextant!

      My Kindle Fire HDX 7 is the last one I would give up right now myself. I would say…my Paperwhite would be my second last one. Well, that’s a tough one between that one and the Voyage, actually.

  4. Tom S Says:

    Note that Rakuten owns both Kobo and Overdrive, so integration was part of the plan when buying the latter. But this is not the first time an e-reader had Overdrive integration: Sony’s had that several years back. Even so I prefer Amazon’s integration with Overdrive, as I often switch devices so having it temporarily added to my Library is more convenient. It seems to me the Overdrive integration only puts it on that one device, and might even make it unavailable on any other device (that is how the Sony integration was).

    • Bufo Calvin Says:

      Thanks for writing, Tom!

      That’s a good point about Rakuten! We’ll have to see about the implementation…

      • Tom Semple Says:

        Looks like the borrowed book does join your Kobo library for the borrowing period, so that would handle my multi device issue. That said, it is not nearly reason enough to invest in this device. Like most readers of your blog, I made my vendor decision a long time ago. And even if Amazon put out a similar device, I would not be interested in it.

      • Bufo Calvin Says:

        Thanks for writing, Tom!

        Good to know!

        If Amazon made an EBR with the same features, why wouldn’t you want it? Not necessary and/or too expensive?

  5. Kathryn Diak Says:

    I will probably keep my Paperwhite. The Overdrive is interesting. I used that with our public library, until recently when the library system my library belongs to switched to Cloud Library which requires an app, so only works on tablets and smartphones. I have those but prefer to read on my Paperwhite. So very sad I can’t checkout books for my Kindle. It helps keep my book buying cost to barely reasonable. 🙂

    • Bufo Calvin Says:

      Thanks for writing, Kathryn!

      If you borrow it using your SmartPhone or tablet, does it then become available in your Cloud library where you could download it to your Kindle?

      • Tom Semple Says:

        The Cloud Library app (used to be from 3M but they sold that business to another company, Bibliotheca) is not available from the Amazon AppStore for Fire tablets (it is listed, but available only for non-Fire Android devices, and has not been updated for over a year). The .apk is available for download from Bibliotheca, I believe, but you have to ‘allow third party apps’ and install any updates as they become available by the same ‘manual’ procedure. In any case Kindle devices cannot participate.

        If you have any relatively recent iOS or Android device, then none of this is an issue. Some report that they can get Google Play app to work on their Fire (apparently without rooting) and if that is true then maybe that would be a workaround as well.

        Given that since Amazon’s arrangement with Overdrive took place prior to the latter’s acquisition by competitor Rakuten, perhaps Amazon will want to hedge their bets by making a similar arrangements with other services like Bibliotheca and Axis 360 and Hoopla (to allow borrows to work on Kindles or at least Fires directly), so that if libraries switch away from Overdrive, or never used that service in the first place, there’s a way for Amazon device owners to borrow library books more conveniently. One can hope.

      • Bufo Calvin Says:

        Thanks for writing, Tom!

        Again, good information…thanks!

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