WHSmith are moving their business away from real high street books and will sell two ebook readers from next week, in partnership with Canadian retailer Kobo.
Touted as having access to the UK’s largest digital book catalogue with 2.2 million titles, whereas the Amazon Kindle has access to only 750,000, users will have to logon to WHSmith’s ebook store and then set up a Kobo account to download books.
The Kobo Wireless retails for £89 while the touch-screen Kobo Touch goes for £109.99, putting them in direct competition with the new Kindle and Kindle Wireless.
Although Kobo seems to offer a lot more titles than Amazon, this is only because they have access to EPUB books, which are currently only accessible for the Kindle provided the user is willing to convert the EPUB format into Amazon’s AZW format.
While there is no fancy cloud storage on the Kobo, memory expansion is available, with a 32 GB SD memory card able to store up to 30,000 ebooks. The models also use the same E-Ink technology as Amazon uses and are only slightly thicker and heavier than Kindles.
Commuters will be able to pick up the Kobo from all 750 WHSmith branches, including the ones located in train stations and airports, but the devices are Wi-Fi only and books need to be synced with Kobo software on a PC.
As Kobo is already the biggest ebook retailer in both Australia and Canada and has 5 million subscribers worldwide, it might be able to give Amazon a run for their money in the UK, following in the footsteps of Google at the end of last year.
You can check out a review of the Kobo Touch on Techworld here.