By Mika Rekai - Monday, November 26, 2012 - 0 Comments
It tracks when you read and when you don’t. Will it soon determine what you read?
For Catherine Henderson, curling up with a good book has always been an escape from reality. What the retired teacher doesn’t know, however, is that while she is lost in her Kindle, someone is reading over her shoulder.
Before ebook readers became popular in 2010—when e-reader sales quadrupled within months—publishers had only one way of measuring a book’s success: sales. Back then, it was almost impossible to do detailed market research that didn’t involve direct feedback, either through letters to the publishers or reader surveys. But the information didn’t tell the whole story about what readers wanted to read, and they said nothing about how they read. Did they read the whole book, or lose interest after a few pages? Did they skip certain chapters? Did they highlight and revisit favourite passages? Now the makers of the Kobo, Kindle and Nook are collecting hard data about exactly how their customers read.
By Peter Nowak - Friday, April 27, 2012 at 10:17 AM - 0 Comments
The Kindle Touch starts shipping to Canada today. Having been given a run-through of the new e-reader at Amazon’s headquarters in Seattle earlier this week, and having had the chance to put it through its paces since, this is good news for book lovers.
As its name implies, the Kindle Touch finally adds the long-missing functionality of a touch screen to Amazon’s e-reader. I’d often chuckle while watching people try to flip pages on previous Kindles by swiping the screen, only to see nothing happen. Mind you, I now sometimes have the same experience watching children swiping TV screens. How quickly the world has changed.
Anyway, other e-readers, such as the Kobo, have had touch screens for a while, so this isn’t really anything new. What I like about the Kindle Touch, though, is its “Easy Reach” feature, which makes 90 per cent of the screen an active next-page area. So, if you’re left-handed and holding the device with one hand, you don’t have to stretch your thumb all the way to the right to turn the page. You can touch the middle instead.
The remaining 10 per cent, around the edges of the screen, is for going back. Kindle director Jay Marine told me this was done because readers only rarely want to go backward in their books.
By Anne Kingston - Friday, January 6, 2012 at 1:00 PM - 0 Comments
Books are making way for more stylish ‘lifestyle’ products at Heather Reisman’s Indigo chain
On Nov. 8, 2011, Canada’s literati gathered in Toronto for their Oscars, the Scotiabank Giller Prize, an event designed to bolster book box office and buzz. Yet the hot topic as guests tucked into their tuna tartare was not literary but corporate—a new plot twist at Indigo Books & Music Inc. Hours earlier, the country’s dominant book retailer announced that Kobo Inc., the e-reader in which it held a 51 per cent stake, had been sold to Rakuten Inc., a Japanese company, for US$315 million. When regulatory hurdles are cleared, Indigo would net an estimated US$150 million.
That Indigo was jettisoning its much-publicized e-asset, one publishers had scrambled to accommodate, was puzzling—at least to those seeking a consistent narrative. Founded in 2009 to compete with Amazon’s Kindle, Kobo was Indigo’s fastest growing division, though only a small fraction of revenues. Minutes after announcing the divestiture, Indigo reported second quarter 2011 results, a loss of $40 million. Sales at Kobo were up 219 per cent over a year earlier, whereas those at indigo.ca rose 1.1 per cent and store sales were down—4.3 per cent at Indigo and Chapters superstores.
Months earlier, in June 2011, Indigo CEO Heather Reisman had talked up the digital/dead-tree book synergies to the Toronto Star: “Indigo is in the business of encouraging people to read,” she said. “We don’t care if people want to read digitally or physically.” A month before that, she predicted e-books would grow to 40 per cent of Indigo’s total book sales. Yet by November, the digital arm was history, shed in part because it would take an infusion of over $100 million to make it globally competitive, and the company was refocusing on a more high-risk area: non-book, or “lifestyle products.” In spring 2011, Reisman told the Globe and Mail that books would decline to 50 per cent of Indigo’s sales in a few years from 75 per cent. “Our stores are about the life of a book lover,” she stressed.
By Alex Ballingall - Tuesday, November 22, 2011 at 10:00 AM - 0 Comments
Earlier this month, Kobo was purchased by Japan’s Rakuten, Inc. for $315 million
E-readers, with their dull black and white screens, have typically been outshone by their flashier, shinier cousins in the tablet market—think iPads and Samsung Galaxies. Kobo, created in 2009 by Toronto-based Indigo Books & Music, Inc., was no different. It was largely overlooked in the Canadian tech industry as a very unsexy bit player.
Not anymore. Earlier this month, Kobo was purchased by Japan’s Rakuten, Inc. for $315 million, and now the Canadian start-up is suddenly being seen in a new light. “Being taken over shouldn’t be seen as a sign that Kobo is anything less than a great Canadian success story,” notes tech analyst Carmi Levy. “It should be seen as a sign that the already successful belle of the ball has been noticed, and has been asked to dance.”
Last quarter, Kobo sales jumped 219 per cent, while the company reports it has five million users worldwide. Kobo already controls more than 50 per cent of the Canadian e-reader market, and has a foothold of around 10 per cent in the U.S. Through Rakuten, the hope is that Kobo will gain access to markets in Europe, South America and Asia so it can further compete with industry heavyweights Amazon, Google and Apple. As Levy says, the time has come for the Canadian start-up to dance with the big boys.