Re-creating the reading experience as genuinely as possible was the key principle in the development of Kobo’s new eReader, the eReader Touch, which is due to be released here by the end of October.
It is this focus that will see the device compete with offerings like Apple’s iPad and the newly-released Kindle Fire from Amazon, according to Kobo EVP business development, Todd Humphrey.
"This isn’t a gadget,” Humphrey says.
"It’s a single-purpose device, it’s built to do one thing.”
That means features like a small screen size (six inches) so that the device can be held and operated with one hand, an e-ink display that remains visible in varying lighting conditions, and a function that displays the cover of the most recently accessed book when the device is off, so the user can leave it on their coffee table or desk as a talking point.
Kobo also runs a popular ‘awards’ scheme which recognises reading achievements, for example with the ‘Twain award’, for reading every day for two weeks, or the ‘Juggernaut award’, for completing a particularly challenging epic such as War & Peace, or anything by Marcel Proust.
Humphrey says New Zealand is a ‘greenfield’ market, with huge room for growth.
"I’d say you’re where the US was a few years ago,” Humphrey says.
"You’ve got maybe one to two percent of people using eReaders now, we think that could rise to ten percent in one year, and maybe fifty percent in five years.”
The eReader Touch is expected to retail through Whitcoulls for $179.