Borders books announced this week that it will soon have its own eReader device ready for its own eBook store this summer. The Kobo eReader is already available for pre-order and at $150, it’s half the price of the Amazon Kindle.
The Kobo will come loaded with 100 public domain titles and is a device neutral format. It will read the popular open source ePub files along with PDF’s. With Sony announcing it’s bookstore is now selling titles only in the ePub format, it appears that the open source I’ve written about these past few years is finally coming to pass. Only the Kindle doesn’t allow you to read ePub files which is to its detriment. The Kindle still has somewhat of a stranglehold on the eReader market despite impressive alternatives like Barnes and Nobles’ “Nook” reader and the Sony Reader which has now moved into touch screen technology. With the economically priced Kobo reader, the Kindle may finally have to compete.
I own a first generation Sony Reader and its still going strong after a few years of use. I’m quite impressed with its performance and battery life. I’ve said for a while that I believe it’s price, performance, and platform are superior to Amazon’s and the Kobo reader is already receiving some good reviews for it’s stripped down, easy to use functions. I’ve not had one in my hand yet so I can’t speak from first hand experience but the inclusion of this device along with the Nook will only drive prices down and performance up. In fact, Kobo is already touting an eBook store in the works with lower prices on books. With these books in the ePub format, I would suspect that purchases made in either the Kobo or Sony store can be read in either device and that’s as it should be! My main complaint with Amazon has been its proprietary nature that locks you in to its file format. Having an open source, device neutral format like ePub opens the market to competition just like a traditional book store. Buying my books from Kobo, Sony, or another third party store should drive the prices of eBooks down and make the purchase of one of these devices worth the investment. Many people have held off buying an eReader because of the relative high prices of reader devices and books. The Kobo should be a good step in the direction of driving prices down for all.
It’s an exciting time for the eBook consumer. Even as little as five years ago, the idea of an affordable eReader with decent priced books seemed a long ways off. I would hope by the fall, we’ll see the majority of eBooks priced at under $10 and it’s not too far fetched to believe readers with color will be the next big step in this growing market.