Why Kobo Thinks Customers Will Buy Fancy E-Book Readers

Kobo may not have Nook or Kindle's brand recognition, but they're betting customers will spring for a super lightweight e-reader.

While Barnes & Noble plays ambivalent about the future of the Nook and Amazon continues to dominate the e-reader industry, Canadian firm Kobo is opting for their own strategy: Lightweight e-readers with more bells and whistles than the Kindle. The company launched their Aura e-reader earlier this week; the device has a 6" HD electronic ink screen and weighs under 175 grams. It retails for $150 and has more than a month of battery time.

With that said, the Kobo Aura does have some interesting features that allow it to stand out from the rest of the e-reader pack. Among other things, there's fonts for dyslexic readers and a better backlight capability than other e-ink products. But for Kobo, the question is how they will be able to undercut the much cheaper e-reader prices of Amazon.

In an interview with Fast Company, CEO Michael Serbinis emphasized that the international market was a major growth area for his company. Kobo is based in Canada and backed financially by Japanese giant Rakuten. Both Amazon and Barnes & Noble have disproportionately focused on the domestic market for e-book readers, and many foreign markets are dominated by homegrown e-reader products without international reach. For Kobo, Europe, Asia, and Latin America might just be the biggest markets for their new e-reader. Besides the Aura, the company announced several other readers and tablets this week.

[Image: Kobo]

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