Kobo is looking to expand its expertise in e-readers and tablets with a new portfolio of magazine offerings, and devices for full-colour reading in a manner intuitive to print readers.
Notable publishers have signed on with Kobo's store in North America, including Rogers Publishing, Reader's Digest, Conde Nast, Hearst Corporation, American Media, Mansueto, Bauer UK and Mondadori. (Masthead
has put in a request for a full list of Canadian partners. Stay tuned for updates.)
Kobo's Dave Anderson said at a PBAA Canada
event Aug. 14 that the company looks to foster healthy relationships with both publishers and retailers with the new ventures. "We don't want to shut out the industry," said Anderson, vice-president of vendor management, maintaining that both parties benefit from and are involved in the process.
Publishers provide PDFs of their magazine content to Kobo, who then adapts the replicas for what it calls a Guided Reading experience: a one-tap interface that intelligently moves the reader from one column to the next. This means no panning, zooming or toolbars, which Kobo hopes will let readers "enjoy magazines for what they are -- the perfect mix of ideas, entertainment, and design." Publishers are able to set their own prices, which Anderson said will likely be comparable to newsstand prices.
On the retailer end, shops receive revenue from purchases made through a device bought at that store. "The retailer sets up their site, and if you want a book, you click, and we complete the transaction," Anderson said. "Each sale through that device goes back to that retailer." Anderson said this model benefits local stores.
The replica/Guided Reading format will make it easy to adapt back issues for sale. Also, while Kobo sees little interest in an iTunes-like model where readers can purchase individual articles rather than whole magazines, Anderson said the decision will be up to publishers even though Kobo is not pushing for it.
Kobo's new e-reader devices, available in October, are the Kobo Arc 10HD, Kobo Arc 7HD, and Kobo Arc 7 tablets, and the Kobo Aura 6" e-ink e-reader. While competing tablets are positioned as multi-purpose computing and communication devices, Kobo says its machines are focused on reading first. A Reading Mode, for example, turns off emails, messages and notifications, and reduces processing load for longer reading times.
The new magazine portfolio will be available in North America in September through Kobo's free e-reading apps for iOS and Android, along with the upcoming lineup of new Arc devices, and will be available internationally by the end of 2013.