E-reading company Kobo is releasing a new e-reader and three new tablets and launching a book discovery tool called “Beyond the Book,” the company announced at an event in New York Tuesday evening. It’s also partnering with read-it-later service Pocket and plans to launch a children’s digital bookstore and a digital newsstand this fall.
The new e-reader is the Kobo Aura, a cheaper version of the company’s $170 “luxury” front-lit e-reader the Aura HD. The Kobo Aura, available for preorder now and available for sale September 16, is $149. It comes with 4 GB of storage — expandable to 32 GB — and has a 212-DPI, front-lit screen.
There’s also a new tablet, the Kobo Arc HD, available in 7-inch and 10-inch versions. The Kobo Arc HD has a feature called “Reading Mode,” which turns off notifications, sound and email when users are reading. And there is an “optimized lighting experience” designed to save battery life.
The 10-inch version, with 16 GB of storage space, an NVIDIA Tegra 4 1.8GHz quad-core processor and 2 GB of RAM, is $399. It has a 2560×1600 HD display, a front-facing camera and WiFi. Its battery life is 9.5 hours.
The 7-inch version is $199.99 for 16 GB of storage and $249.99 for 32 GB of storage. It has an NVIDIA Tegra 1.7GHz quad-core processor, 1 GB of RAM, a 1900×1200 display, a front-facing camera. Its battery life is 8 hours.
Finally, a more basic tablet called the Kobo Arc 7, with 8 GB of storage space, will be available for $149.99. It has an MTK 8125 1.2GHz quad-core processor, 1 GB of RAM and a 1024×600 display. The tablets go on sale this October.
More content partnerships
Kobo also made a number of content announcements. It is launching a book discovery feature called “Beyond the Book,” a children’s digital bookstore and a digital newsstand. And it’s partnered with read-it-later service Pocket.
“Beyond the Book” is a feature that users can turn on while they’re reading an ebook “to discover content that is related to key subjects within the book.” It’s part of Kobo’s “Reading Life” experience, which Kobo offers across its devices, allowing readers to track reading habits, share passages and so on. Of note: There’s a new font option, Dyslexie, designed for dyslexic readers.
The children’s ebookstore, Kobo Kids, will contain about 100,000 children’s titles. It will let parents set up dedicated accounts for kids, designate book-buying allowances for them and pre-select the books their kids can purchase. Parents will also be able to set reading goals for kids and track their progress. Kobo Kids is set to launch in September in North America, the U.K., France and Italy, and will roll out to more countries later.
Kobo’s new digital newsstand, launching in North America in September and internationally by the end of the year, is the company’s first attempt to sell magazines for its devices. Kobo has signed deals with publishers including Hearst, Condé Nast and Time Inc., among others. Much of the technology for the newsstand is being powered by Aquafadas, the French digital software company that Kobo acquired last year.
Finally, through the partnership with Pocket, the Pocket app will be built directly into Kobo’s e-readers and tablets. “This is the first time we’ve partnered directly with a manufacturer to bring Pocket to a native e-reading device,” Pocket founder and CEO Nate Weiner said.