Kobo is set to release a new premium e-reader in September – The Kobo Aura One – which reduces blue light to help readers sleep better after using it.
The e-reader is priced at £189.99 and will be released in the UK on 6th September.
The device is targeted at heavy book buyers and is designed to reduce blue light technology emitted from many devices, blamed for reducing quality of sleep, by using an ambient light sensor which automatically detects current light levels to emit the optimal brightness based on the time of day.
Along with the light sensor, at 7.8 inches, the device is also larger than Kobo’s average, fits more words on the page, used an e-ink display and is waterproof, like its 2014 Kobo H2O device, for up to 60 minutes in two metres of water.
The e-reader was designed with help from nine of Kobo’s “top customers” who “challenged the Kobo design team to push the limits on all aspects of hardware and software,” the company said.
Michael Tamblyn, c.e.o of Rakuten Kobo, said: “The insights and feedback gleaned from working closely with some of our top customers were instrumental in the design of this new device. The result is an e-reader that offers our biggest, thinnest screen yet, a revolutionary light that adapts to day and night—and it’s waterproof, which means it can go virtually anywhere you do.”
He added: “In the end, we want to make people’s reading lives better, and with the help of our most passionate customers, we created Kobo Aura One to do just that.”
The release of the new, premium e-reader follows that of Amazon’s high-end Kindle Oasis, on sale for £269 in the UK sice April - the e-commerce giant's thinnest and lightest model.
Amazon has an estimated 90% share of the e-reader and e-book market in the UK, which has seen off a succession of competitors, such as Waterstones in May, Nook in March, blinkbox books last year and Sony in 2014.
However, Tamblyn told The Bookseller the company had seen double digit year-on-year growth across its global business last year and was “committed” to the British market.
While it was always “very hard to tell” what market share the company has in the UK as “we do not have good metrics on it”, Tamblyn said: “We are absolutely committed to the UK market. We have invested in a partnership with WH Smith to showcase our e-readers, between us we are able to reach out to people in stores."
He added: “We have seen double-digit year-on-year growth, which is in contrast to some of our competitors who put all of their bets on a single market and have seen a decline. We have seen some steady increases in Western Europe, particularly Italy, and in Asia, particularly Japan, as well.”
Tamblyn said that recent lower sales of traditionally-published e-books were being offset by higher sales of self-published titles for Kobo in the UK and the US, and the firm was also winning market share by picking up the former e-book customers of Waterstones, blinkbox books and Sony, by giving them the option of transferring their libraries to Kobo after their e-book stores closed.
Kobo's e-readers continue to sell despite the popularity of tablets, which consumers can also use for other purposes such as checking emails, watching films and listening to music, because many readers want to upgrade their devices and were looking for an experience that doesn’t have the internet as a distraction, Tamblyn said. While Kobo’s bestselling e-reader was the Kobo Glo HD, around 20-25% of its e-reader sales are from premium devices, such as the Kobo Aura One, he added.
Earlier in the year Kobo revealed 50% of its customers were over 55-years-old and 30% were retired.