Kobo's service is currently online at kobobooks.com
Borders, in association with the Canadian publishing company called Kobo, has become the latest company to venture into the world of eBooks. This includes both reader devices and the selling of eBooks through an online store. Although a Borders spokesperson has clarified that Borders will not be involved in the reader devices and they might not carry the devices being developed at the moment. Borders thus constitutes a growing number of competitors for the Kindle and hence for Amazon’s burgeoning eBook business. Of course, it is no secret that the market is expected to explode sometime soon. So even though companies like these are late into the game, they are still entering the market at a nascent stage.
Sure, it would be pretty interesting to see what the devices are going to be like but Borders’ intention to make the platform completely open is even more interesting. It seems like the Borders and Kobo initiative will try to please as many people as they possibly can. And by that I mean that the service will support multiple devices and will be completely platform agnostic.
According to the Chief of Indigo Books & Music (the company behind Kobo), the idea is to free the user from obligations to only one device. Once they buy something from Kobo, they will be able to read it on their readers, their iPhones, their Blackberries and anywhere else that supports eBooks. The service will be based on the open ePub publishing standard, which is already supported in nearly every reader that is there in the market right now. They intend to offer free eBooks from the Internet, as well as paid for eBooks that will start from around $10. They are looking to target light readers who “buy a couple a books a year”.
I’ve updated the Kindle International Coverage table. Canada is now included and most countries have 300K+ books available to them.
The Kindle 2 International continues on its path to global coverage, this time reaching Canada. The International Kindle, with its free global roaming wireless connection has attracted a lot of international buyers and Canada was one of the many countries where the launch of the device is highly anticipated.
Amazon declared earlier last week that Canada is now amongst the countries that they officially ship to. While Amazon’s delay to support a nation so close to the US has raised a few eyebrows, it has to be understood that international trade laws can be pretty stringent. So finalizing business deals sometimes takes an unnaturally long time, which is lamentable but unavoidable in certain situations.
Now the wait is finally over for Canadians and Kindles have already started being shipped up North. If there was ever an eBook reader that a large number of international customers wanted, it has to be the Kindle. And this fact is not lost on Kindle’s competition.
Sony has followed Amazon to Canada and has started shipping their own eBook readers there. But till date Sony lacks the kind of content that Kindle readers have easy access to with each and every Kindle. So it doesn’t look like Amazon will be threatened by Sony’s readers anytime soon. But that does not mean that Sony will not do anything about it.
As it turns out, Sony is planning its own online store, called Sony Online Service. Their primary target is iTunes but it is likely that they would want to provide content for all their devices and that logically should include Sony’s eBooks readers. However, if their content is as limited as their eBook reader and as unimaginative as their online service name, Amazon will have the last laugh on this one.
No doubt many Canadians New Zealanders were greatly disappointed by the fact that International Kindle will not ship to their countries today. However not all hope is lost. According to publications by New Zealand PCWorld and The Globe and Mail, Amazon is currently involved in intensive talks with Vodafone regarding the wireless access in NZ and with three different wireless phone companies in Canada.
It looks like Amazon decided to postpone the launch rather than ship devices without wireless access to these markets. I guess this was done to avoid negative initial reviews that would hurt sales in the long run. After all, without the wireless access book buying experience for Kindle becomes even more cumbersome process that with Sony readers.