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Kobo says the $170 Aura HD e-reader now accounts for “up to 27%” of its device sales

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When Kobo launched its “luxury” e-reader, the $169.99 Aura HD, last month, I was skeptical that anybody would shell out for it when cheaper models are available. Early sales results, however, suggest that I was wrong: Kobo announced Tuesday, a day before BookExpo America begins in New York, that the month-old Aura now accounts for “up to 27 percent of Kobo devices sold at retail, with more than 50 percent of those customers being new to Kobo.” The company didn’t reveal how many devices it has sold.

In addition, Kobo says its revenue grew by 98 percent in the first quarter of 2013, compared to this time last year. During the quarter , it says it “grew its user base by 2.5 million readers, bringing its total registered users to 14.5 million, with 15 percent of its new user base coming from the U.S.” That last point is important, as it suggests the Toronto-based Kobo is making some progress in cutting into a U.S. e-reader market dominated by Amazon (s AMZN) and, in a distant second place, Nook (s BKS).

Kobo’s been stressing for awhile that the e-reader market is alive and well: In January, the company said it doubled its e-reader sales in 2012. The company is also expanding rapidly. The Aura, currently available in the U.S., U.K., Canada, Italy and Germany, will launch in Australia, France, the Netherlands and Brazil “in coming months.” More broadly, Kobo plans to expand to India, China and Russia.

The company also revealed that ebooks released through its year-old self-publishing platform, Writing Life, now make up 10 percent of its revenue, “with 10 percent of the top 50 bestseller list comprised on independent authors.”

4 Responses to “Kobo says the $170 Aura HD e-reader now accounts for “up to 27%” of its device sales”

  1. Joshua Smith

    I also sprang for one of these, mainly based on the lack of anything better in the US. The Cybook Odyssey HD seems like vaporware, the Kindle has no expansion capabilities, and the Nook has a low-res screen.

    My biggest disappointment with this is how it handles PDFs. I have my fingers crossed that they’ll fix this in a firmware update, as it would be PERFECT if it treated PDFs like it treats comic book files – ditch the page numbers (or at least make them optional) and automatically scale each page up to the maximum size possible on the screen. Even without that, the high resolution makes PDFs look okay and absolutely readable, but the wasted screen space makes me sad.

    I would also have preferred at least a few mechanical buttons (even if just for page turns).

  2. Tracey Cross

    I have a kobo aura and a kindle paperwhite. I use my aura so much more. The display is so much clearer and crisp looking. It took me days to find one to buy though as everywhere I looked were either sold out or waiting for stock to arrive. I agree with the comment about customer services not being perfect. But kobo is relatively new and seems to be improving. I’ve always been able to find a book that I want and most of the books I like are not from well known authors either. Infact kobo had one book that I desperately wanted whereas amazon didnt have the kindle version.

  3. Elise Hines

    I actually own one, and compared to my Kindle 3G, the screen is amazing. The software has some bugs, but updates come relatively quickly. The backlight on the Kobo devices beats the Nook and Kindle backlighting by miles, especially since you can turn it off.

    Their customer service is less-than-satisfactory, and the fact that they’re not selling them in any brick-and-mortar stores in the U.S. is a big problem. Other than that, I don’t see why any serious reader (especially one who wants to maintain good eye health) wouldn’t go for the highest resolution e-reader possible.