Category Archives: eBook Market

Kobo’s New Tablets: The Future in E-Readers or the Next Nook?

The Canadian-based company Kobo recently unveiled a new line of tablets. While the line boasts features for those with “reading at the center of their lives,” their prices and the American e-reading audience’s unfamiliarity with them is leaving some skeptical.

Kobo’s strategy of building and marketing their products for the passionate and “discerning” reader remains with their new line of tablets, with features like “Reading Mode,” which allows the reader to block interruptions from other apps on the tablet, and “Beyond the Book,” which allows users to discover new books based on their current reading.

Even with these features, skeptics are quick to draw comparisons to Barnes & Noble’s failed Nook tablet, which the company recently reported big losses from and announced it would be shifting its focus away from. If users weren’t drawn to switch from their iPads and other more popular tablets to the Nook, what will make them switch to the lesser-known Kobo tablets, especially when they don’t offer competitive prices?

Laura Hazzard Owen, of GigaOM, and Jeremy Greenfield, from Digital Book World, both point out that users already invested in the “ecosystem” of other tablets won’t want to give up the familiarity and convenience of their current tablets for a new, fairly unknown e-reader. Greenfield does point out that those who haven’t yet made the switch to e-readers may choose Kobo’s new tablets because of their features.

The American Booksellers Association (ABA) hopes this happens as well, and in recently switching from an e-book partnership with Google to one with Kobo instead, it’s helping to get the tablet into the hands of these new users, starting with independent bookstores. While these booksellers haven’t experienced any boost in sales from featuring Kobo’s devices in their stores, Judith Rosen of Publishers Weekly points out that making a profit has never been the main goal for these sellers with e-books. These independent bookstores have, however, been able to retain their customers by offering both print and the Kobo e-readers, a goal more important to them.

Kobo distances itself from other e-reader companies by focusing its efforts and attentions solely on e-readers, not spreading itself too thin by trying to dominate other publishing markets, such as print books. Kobo’s content chief Michael Tamblyn explains that “It’s a clarity of purpose that none of our competitors really have. We don’t have to worry about a legacy retail business, or selling ebooks in the context in many things…” as, for example, Barnes & Noble did with the Nook.

While Kobo hopes that targeting international markets will help them succeed where the Nook, and B&N, failed, many in the industry are left wondering if that will be sufficient, or whether it will even work with their current prices. Laura Hazzard Owen notes that “international customers in developed countries are still probably more likely to choose tables from the big names…[and] customers in developing countries probably can’t afford a $399 tablet.”

ABA’s Oren Teicher hopes that the U.S. market won’t let their unfamiliarity with Kobo, or their tablets’ higher prices, prevent users from experiencing what he calls “the best global solution for all booksellers to sell digital content.”

Sources:

1. “Left to Their Own Devices,” by Porter Anderson (http://publishingperspectives.com/2013/09/ether-for-authors-is-the-dust-up-over-kobos-devices-fair/)

2. “Kobo Aims at “People With Reading at the Center of Their Lives,” by Dennis Abrams (http://publishingperspectives.com/2013/08/kobo-aims-at-people-with-reading-at-the-center-of-their-lives/)

3. “The ABA-Kobo Partnership, a Year Later,” by Judith Rosen (http://www.publishersweekly.com/pw/by-topic/industry-news/bookselling/article/58938-the-aba-kobo-partnership-a-year-later.html)

4. “B&N Not Selling Retail Business; Outlines New Strategies,” by Calvin Reid (http://www.publishersweekly.com/pw/by-topic/industry-news/financial-reporting/article/58795-b-n-not-selling-retail-business-outlines-new-strategies.html)

5. “Reports of Barnes & Noble’s Death Are Greatly Exaggerated,” by Edward Nawotka (http://publishingperspectives.com/2013/08/reports-of-barnes-nobles-death-are-greatly-exaggerated/#at_pco=tcb-1.0&at_ab=-&at_pos=3&at_tot=5)

6. Kobobooks.com (http://store.kobobooks.com/en-us/)

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Expanding eBooks to Children: Advantages and Setbacks

With the growth and development of eBooks market in its beginning phases, its preliminary focus has been towards the teen and adult markets. The market for children has been limited at best. Most of the children titles that have been published in eBooks usually lack engagement with their audience. “EBooks have found their place with older and teen readers,” as Stacia Deutsch points out, “The time is right for younger readers to discover downloading and enjoying books on their Kindles, Nooks, computers and phones. Some already have begun to enjoy the immediacy of having a book in [their] hands seconds after choosing it, but the technology is new to so many children.”

The emergence of children’s literature could potentially help improve world literacy. Worldreader.org, a global non-profit organization, has distributed 662,008 eBooks to 4,300 children and teachers in Africa as of June 2013. In an area where it was difficult to get the books they needed now they can get as many as the want.

The challenge that publishers face with children is captivating their attention in entertainment saturated cultures. They must find ways to engage young audiences while competing with television, movies, video games, and the internet, among other distractions. Publishers need to use all the available features of eBooks (color displays, touch screens, etc) to engage young readers. This may prove a costly venture for publishers in an uncertain market, which is what holds the eBooks market back from young readers. A trend that may continue until this market proves profitable for publishers.

R.L.E.3.

Sources:

Will Children Embrace EBooks?: New York Times Best-Selling Authors Hope The Answer is “Yes!”

E-readers: The Best Way to Get the Worlds Children Reading

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Filed under Children's Literature, eBook Market