Within the annals of nice underdogs, a Canadian subsidiary of a Japanese mega-retailer makes for an unlikely entrant. And but right here’s Kobo, again, with a brand new e-reader that would give Kindle house owners some critical second ideas.
The brand new Kobo Aura One is actually huge, a 7.eight-inch behemoth in a world of ordinary 6-inch shows. However its options are additionally outsized, whether or not it’s strong waterproofing, a intelligent new nighttime lighting system, or a means that will help you learn as many prime-shelf books as you please with out paying a cent. Extra importantly, they’re all enhancements you gained’t discover on an Amazon Kindle.
It’s a rocky time for e-readers. Final month, the Affiliation of American Publishers reported that whereas general guide income elevated .6 % in 2015 versus the yr earlier than, e-ebook income fell a precipitous eleven.three %. Of Amazon’s in depth e-reader lineup, solely two crack the corporate’s prime one hundred sellers in electronics.
So it’s not shocking then that Kobo has felt a few of this decline as nicely; actually, the one shocking factor for most individuals could also be that an e-reader referred to as Kobo exists in any respect. The upstart’s mum or dad firm, Japanese e-commerce big Rakuten, wrote down its 2011 Kobo acquisition by almost $250 million earlier this yr.
The awful economics of e-studying belies the steadily growing joys of the units themselves, particularly within the burgeoning premium class. Not many individuals could also be prepared to spend a whole lot of dollars on an e-reader, however for those who’re one in every of them, you’re in for a deal with. That applies to Amazon’s $200 Kindle Voyage, its newer $290 Oasis, which comes with its personal leather-based charging case, and now to the $230 Kobo Aura One, which launches on September 6. It does issues neither of these Amazon units can dream of, and it has to if it needs to shake individuals from their e-reader lethargy.
“When individuals speak about seeing declines within the area, one of many issues that’s embedded in that’s that individuals are nonetheless studying on units that they purchased in 2011 and 2012,” says Kobo CEO Michael Tamblyn. “Then they slowly improve till one thing comes alongside that’s ok to make them step upward. It’s not like smartphones, the place you’re getting an enormous inflow of latest clients each 18 months.”
If e-reader success is a matter of enticements, the Aura One makes for a reasonably strong siren. Earlier Kobos have been waterproof, however the newest mannequin can survive submerged two meters for as much as an hour, not that you simply’d have to. The Aura One hops on the anti-blue-mild development, phasing out blue spectrum over time in order that studying in mattress doesn’t go on to have an effect on your sleep. (There are research that say that is useful, and Apple launched an identical function in iOS 9.three, however mileage will differ).
It’s additionally greater. Tamblyn says the 7.eight-inch show helps mimic the texture of a hardcover, moderately than a paperback, and that getting older e-ebook fanatics choose having extra phrases on a web page even at blown-up font sizes. In my brief time with the Aura One, I can affirm that regardless of its measurement, it’s snug to carry one-handed, because of minimal weight and a pleasantly texturized rubber again. I don’t know that I favor a much bigger show but, or favor it sufficient to sacrifice even that little little bit of room in my bag. All that floor space can even make the Aura One slightly awkward to navigate once you’re utilizing the keyboard to look the shop, or adjusting far-flung settings.
However you’re principally simply studying. And apart from, any annoyance shortly disappears if you get to the Aura One’s greatest function. The one the place you don’t have to purchase books anymore.
Apologies if this comes as no shock, however you don’t truly should buy e-books. You possibly can lease them out of your native library, by means of an organization referred to as OverDrive.
I do know, proper? Free books! And it’s not such as you have been going to show them in your constructed-ins anyway. The rationale extra individuals don’t find out about this, or perhaps extra precisely simply don’t do it, is that the method is a ache. You need to enroll at your library, register at OverDrive in your browser, obtain a guide, switch it to your system; it’s a multitude, it doesn’t matter what e-reader you personal.
“The earlier expertise of individuals aspect-loading to the gadget was sixteen steps to borrow by means of a library,” says Tamblyn. “And if any a type of went incorrect, it was often a customer support name to us.”
You’ll discover that Tamblyn makes use of the previous tense. That’s as a result of Rakuten purchased OverDrive in 2015 for over $four hundred million, which suggests OverDrive and Kobo are siblings, which is why (thanks, company synergy!) the Kobo Aura One has OverDrive constructed proper in.
That will get a bit of tangled, so let me make clear: You possibly can borrow e-books immediately on the Aura One, at no cost, with just some faucets. I picked up Nationwide E-book Award finalist Fates and Furies final night time with about 30 seconds of labor, together with the obtain time. It retails for $thirteen on Amazon.
There are hiccups to OverDrive borrowing. The titles ultimately disappear out of your system when the lending interval is over (though you’ll be able to re-up), and the choice may be scant. However giving OverDrive equal weight as a paid bookstore is a exceptional factor. In the event you borrow 10 books a yr, that’s simply 100 dollars you’ve saved, to not point out avoiding the effort of aspect-loading.
For now, the direct OverDrive entry is restricted to the Aura One, although Tamblyn didn’t rule out the likelihood that it might come to different fashions as properly. It goes a great distance in the direction of making that $230 buy worth extra palatable, although. Particularly when that also undercuts Amazon’s greatest by a strong quantity.
“We have been definitely fairly delighted to see somebody come out with one thing up within the $300 vary that was nonetheless a 6-inch display, that hadn’t carried out something with mild and sleep, not waterproof,” says Tamblyn. “That was an excellent present to us.”
There are issues to not like concerning the Aura One. It has no bodily buttons, when you want these, and Kobo’s e-e-book retailer choice nonetheless falls properly in need of the Kindle Retailer. The bigger measurement may throw you off. However there’s additionally a lot to love. Extra importantly, there’s a lot right here that you simply gained’t discover anyplace else. On the very least, it makes Kobo worthy of a better learn.
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