Kobo triples marketing, launches luxury device

Kobo is to spend three times more this year than last on a global marketing campaign, defining its image as the “digital reading company for avid book readers”. The company also launched a device described as "the Porsche of e-readers" at LBF last night (15th April).

TV adverts will begin in the UK on 29th April, with the slogans “for those who love reading above all else” and an advert focusing on how reading can build relationships between parents and children.

Wayne White, Kobo executive vice-president and general manager, told The Bookseller Daily that the company will triple its 2012 marketing spend, aiming for the 14% of the population who are heavy book buyers.

He added: “It was always part of the long-term strategic plan to establish Kobo in a unique position in the market, of targeting that passionate reader rather than just the masses. We’re trying to say that ‘we understand you better than anybody else’.”

Kobo unveiled a new luxury e-reader designed to target that "passionate reader" at a press event at the Millbank Centre in London yesterday evening.

The Kobo Aura HD has a 30% larger screen at 6.8 inches and, with 265 dpi, a higher resolution than any other e-reader or tablet on the market, Michael Tamblyn, Kobo's chief content officer told The Bookseller.

The e-reader also has contours on the back shaped to enhance readers' comfort when holding the device. It uses HD e-ink. 

It is available to pre-order from WH Smith from today for 139.99.

Kobo decided to design a high-spec e-reader after conducting research which suggested that 90% of current e-ink users expect to buy the generation device within the next 12 months, Tamblyn said.

Michael Serbinis, Kobo c.e.o., said: "From the beginning, Kobo has pushed the e-reading industry to new heights and today is no exception. Kobo Aura HD is designed for the most passionate booklovers- those who devour hundreds of stories each year  who asked us to create the ultimate e-reading experience. Kobo Aura HD is our way of celebrating these customers."

White described the new product as "the Porsche of e-readers" because it was "fast, powerful, and sleek and pushes the boundaries of e-reading".

The company has also announced it is in "deep discussions" with the UK's magazine publishers to offer digital versions of magazines on its Arc tablet, and through its app, in time for summer. It will deliver the experience through the expertise gained from last year's purchase of the French digital publishing company Aquafadas.

Kobo also announced that it would exclusively sell the digital copy of Khaled Hosseini's And the Mountains Echoed in Brazil. Tamblyn told The Bookseller "it will be the first of other digital exclusives".

Speaking at last night's (15th April) event about WH Smith’s decision to begin selling e-readers, Steve Clarke, managing director of WH Smith High Street and soon-to-be c.e.o of the company in June, said: “We realised we could build a good digital books business with a physical books business…at the same time we knew the yanks were coming. We wanted to work with a company which had the best range and treated the UK market seriously and would not play second fiddle to the US.”

Speaking about the relationship between WHS and Kobo, Clarke admitted there had been “a little bit of falling out, a little bit of hissy fitting, a little bit of 'it's not me it's you'” between the two businesses at first. But, he added: “The one thing I can say, hand on heart in all my career, it is very seldom you come across people who will put their money where their mouth is like Kobo.”

Read the LBF Bookseller Daily: Day 2