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WH Smith to launch Kobo ebook reader to compete with Amazon

Watch out, Amazon – WH Smith is coming after your ebook sales. While Amazon continues rolling out its triumverate of new devices (the new Kindle, the Kindle Touch and the Kindle Fire tablet) around the world, WH Smith is teaming up with Canadian ebook producers Kobo to launch its Kobo e-ink readers in its shops.

The Kobo readers will be on sale in WH Smith for £89.99, just 99p more expensive than Amazon’s latest Kindle reader. The Kobo readers will arrive in shops next week, with a library of 2.2 million ebooks available for download at launch.

WH Smith’s decision to branch out into the ebook market comes after recent falling sales, which the retailer attributes in part to e-reader fans going digital as opposed to picking up traditional paperbacks.

But we’re not sold that launching a Kindle competitor this late in the game is going to do WH Smith any favours. The Kindle is already on its fourth generation device, costs the same and has the ebook market pretty much sewn up. It’s true that WH Smith’s Kobo store will offer more books (2.2 million vs. 750,000 on Kindle), but with WH Smith’s average customer reportedly buying only three books per year, will they really notice the larger selection? Your thoughts, as always, in the comments below.

Source: The Guardian


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