Tuesday, September 28, 2010
A device with a single purpose is considered an appliance in the technology world. The KOBO e-reader is such a device. It is the toaster of e-readers. It follows the old technology vendors trick of creating a vendor lock -in model that ties you with them.

With the backing of Chapters /Indigo the Kobo Online Bookstore has a selection of 2 million books priced on average at $9.99. If you do not have a KOBO you can still get a digital book and read it on your computer or smartphone by downloading their software (Adobe Digital Editions). You can also download a KOBO APP for your Apple iPAd, from the iTune store.

E-Readers are going through a transformation and it seems to have some staying power. I still remember when the first e-book craze happened during the dotcom boom during the late 90’s. The use of e-readers will grow and the ability to read PDFs on these devices is an important concern for magazine publishers as part of their digital distribution model. To see a product video go to this link.

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The KOBO sells for $149 and measures 7.2 X 4.7 inches with a 6-inch digital screen


The KOBO Scorecard
The gadgets in this blog for e-readers will be based on a scorecard and will be evaluated on these four criteria (download speed, readibility, navigation, price/value) to arrive at the score.

Download Speeds - To access content on the KOBO you need to set up an online account that will house your library. The process is fairly basic; if you can connect a digital camera to your computer you will have no problem. You can also connect through Bluetooth and your Blackberry. You can transfer PDF files to be read on the reader. I transferred a textbook, magazine and some business reading on my test device.

Readability - The screen size of the device lends itself very good for books and it was a joy to read a book in this format, with no eye strain (I do not like reading for long periods of time on my computer as it is hard on my eyes). The liquid ink technology allows you to read in any light conditions so you can take outside, or even your daughter’s soccer game.

It does not however work well with 8 1/2 x 11 PDFs as the type is small, but readable. The gray scale photos were passable but not very crisp. Changing pages uses a 4-way directional button that took some getting used to (I kept touching the screen – my iTouch habit).

Navigation - Simple navigation is an important feature I look for. The KOBO device was a single menu bar that was self explanatory and does not require a techie to figure it out. The biggest beef I have with any new device as each one has a unique way to use the device and there is always a new learning curve.

Price/Feature Value - The KOBO does what a reading device is supposed to do,- allow you to read. It does not have wifi, audio or any other bells and whistles. It is very lightweight and has rubber backing for easier grip and handling. E-ink technology offers great battery life as a single charge will last for 2 weeks or 8,000 page turns. The price is $149 which makes it very affordable for a mass market versus $249 for a Sony Touch Reader or $550 for an Apple iPad.

The Gadget Report Rating - 3.5 out of 5
The reading of PDFs was a chore and would not be an everyday task that I would do on an eReader. If it was an 8″ x 10″ screen, I probably would get better use from it as I can download PDFs of magazines and business reading. The black and white screen seems archaic in a digital world, where high definition color is the norm.

Next Device:
The Sony Reader Touch Edition PRS-6000
Thursday, September 23, 2010
When I pitched the idea of doing a blog on gadgets to Masthead publisher Doug Bennet it seemed the appropriate time to help magazine publishers stay on top of technology developments. Plus it helps me play with some cool gadgets.

The introduction of eReaders in the marketplace by Amazon, Sony, Apple and Kobo in Canada may be the tipping point for the magazine industry to make money for content online. According to the Boston-based Yankee Group, It is expected that six million eReaders will be sold in the USA this year and will grow 34% per year, with prices for the devices falling 15% per year. Apple has already sold over three million iPads worldwide.

Hardware ownership will help shape the digital strategy for magazine publishers to expand the reach of the magazine with the best ROI
Hardware ownership will help shape the digital strategy for magazine publishers to expand the reach of the magazine with the best ROI


You can now buy magazine apps for $4.99 at the Apple iTunes store or a book at the Kobo bookstore store (Chapters/Indigo owns 60% of Kobo) for $9.95. These new benchmarks may be a glimpse to the future for a paid online magazine subscription model. Connected Planet reported that Wired magazine has sold 24,000 apps on the Apple iPad since its introduction for $4.99. It seems like there is a gold rush for Apple iPad apps as there are over 250,000 apps now available in the market. You know the golden rule; first to market is part of the winning formula in today’s competitive marketplace.

Another new skill publishers will need as they adapt to the digital world is the use of video. As part of the editorial mix online video is fast becoming a key component and some of my clients have created video studios in their offices. So I thought I would add video and lighting equipment publishers can use for their in-house studios as part of the blog. I finally bought a webcam and using it for video Skype meetings with clients and I am having a blast. The cost of a webcam is now $15 so it was a cheap investment.

 


The long-term health of any business is to attract the next generation of readers to their brands. The next generation that are now 18-24 uses social networks, text message, have laptops and mobile phones. While I believe print will never die, but will still be a preference for older readers, it is important that great magazine content is available online to help the brands grow or just survive, but not for free if we can help it.
About Me
Martin Seto

 
Martin Seto is the principal of Reflex Media, a media consultancy practice offering media owners online publishing, ad sales and acquisition/selling brokerage services. His media services also include working with ad agencies as a media buyer/planner for tv, radio, print, outdoor and online. He has been in the advertising and media industry for 25+ years and he has been an instructor/speaker with Centennial College and at magazine conferences across Canada. He also moonlights as a pro goalie as a "rent a goalie" at mypuck.com.
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