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On this blog we will track down the latest Amazon Kindle news. We will keep you up to date with whats hot in the bestsellers section, including books, ebooks and blogs... and we will also bring you great Kindle3 tips and tricks along with reviews for the latest KindleDX accessories.

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October 2016
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Kobo Learns From Amazon, Adds Ads

While the Kobo eReader has had trouble gaining much traction against competing Kindle and Nook options, it continues to be a comparatively strong presence in the eReader marketplace.  This is especially true in international markets where Amazon has not yet managed to secure the same sort of market dominance that it enjoys in the US.  In an effort to keep up with the recent Kindle and Nook price drops, the Kobo Touch eReader had been brought down to as low as $99.

Of course, they accomplished this by using Amazon’s own methods against them.  This newer, cheaper version of the popular touchscreen eReader will only be available at the $99 price point by offering advertisements.  This is obviously no different from what has been done before with the Kindle, but it is especially interesting in that Kobo is the first company to attempt to make use of Amazon’s eReader ad revenue stream model.

The major question right now will be in how they implement it.  Since none of the new Kobo models have shipped just yet, we have no way of knowing precisely where these ads will be placed aside from in screensavers.  Any time the device is powered off or in sleep mode, the owner will be treated to a sponsored special offer.  No major imposition there.  The tricky part is that Kobo also lists ads in “other discreet places” without clear definition of where these will be.

I think it is safe to say that none of these ads will in any way interfere with the reading experience.  Not only would that better adhere to Amazon’s already successful model, but Kobo as a company has always maintained that it is interested first and foremost in the reader.  Nobody would be particularly happy at this stage if they had to read ads inside their books.  That does not preclude throwing up half-screen banners or pop up windows that need to be closed to proceed throughout the menu navigation, though.  We can hope that these will not be present, but the company does not have quite the clout that Amazon brings to the table and may need to concede a bit to get advertisers interested.

While it can be a touchy issue to bring advertising into something like this, especially in an environment where publishers are desperately afraid that customers will start perceiving eBooks as an affordable alternative to paper printings, if done right it can reduce costs significantly.  There is every reason to expect that within the next year or two we will be seeing Kindles priced so low as to make it almost silly not to own one.  They might even be free, under the right promotion.  If this takes place, the competition will have no choice but to follow suit or drop out. Considering how tactfully Amazon has managed to include ads on their eReader line, making many owners including myself wish that it were possible to ad the adds to older Kindles, there is no reason not to join in so long as a similarly low key approach is employed.

The new Kobo Touch with Offers will be shipping in 2-3 weeks.

New Kobo Touch eReader Attempts To Match Kindle

So far the big contribution that the Kobo has made to the eReader marketplace, in my opinion, is spurring the more established and easy to use eReaders like the Kindle and Nook into an abrupt price drop.  The Kobo hit stores at $150 at a time when a decent eReader would cost you somewhere around a hundred dollars more than that no matter which one you went with.  It made a big difference, even if the Kobo itself was so basic and clunky to use that it didn’t make a huge splash in terms of usability.  Now, with their first major hardware upgrade, the Kobo eReader is back in the race.  The new Kobo is a lot easier on the eyes and promises to be more than a little bit simpler to use.  The big question is whether or not it is enough of a change.

In a lot of ways, the new Kobo Touch is the same concept as the new Nook.  You’ve got a 6″ E Ink Pearl screen, a Home button, and a nicely dark frame.  Lots of visual similarities.  You also get a WiFi connection, though it only works to go to the Kobo Store.  The touchscreen seems ok, and they avoided the blurriness issues that arose in Sony’s touchscreen eReaders by going with a touchscreen technology that does not involve an extra screen layer.  You even get a fair amount of internal memory and an SD slot to work with.  Really, though, it seems like something is missing to be really competitive here.

Leave aside the Kindle comparison for the moment to focus on the more directly comparable new Nook.  Yes, there is a $10 price difference, but consider what is being sacrificed for that money.  Both devices have EPUB support and work well with libraries, by all accounts.  The Nook is supposedly pushing 60 days of battery life these days compared to the new Kobo’s 10 days.  You only get two font sizes to choose from on the Kobo.  You won’t be getting apps of any sort, from what I can see.  Even the size isn’t considerably smaller in any way.

The one place where the Kobo might make a splash is in its social networking service.  Amazon’s Kindle has done a bit along these lines and it wouldn’t surprise me to see the Kindle Tablet do more when it comes around, but so far I would say that the Kobo’s Reading Life is a lot more elaborate.  Up until now, to the best of my knowledge, this feature has only been available through iOS and Android apps rather than as a part of the Kobo eReader itself.  It tracks reading time, page turns, books completed, hands out awards for having read books, and more.

Will the novelty be able to clear a spot near the top of the eReader market for the Kobo?  Probably not.  Keep in mind, however, that there is room for variety.  This is probably the third best eReader brand out there right now as far as the price to features ratio is concerned.  There might very well be a place for it even with the Nook and Kindle holding what are in my opinion deservedly superior positions at the moment.