Pick n Pay launches Kobo e-reader

2012-11-01 08:00
Pick n Pay has partnered with Kobo to launch the e-reader in South Africa. (Kobo)

Pick n Pay has partnered with Kobo to launch the e-reader in South Africa. (Kobo)

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Cape Town - Pick n Pay announced on Wednesday that it is launching the Kobo e-reader in selected stores.

The retailer launched the touch device in partnership with Kobo as an alternative to what is available in the market.

"We have a partnership with Kobo. We have exclusivity on the product for some time," Pick n Pay brand manager Zanele Masuku told News24.

Kobo is based in Canada and the company says that it wants to promote open platform e-reading.

"We really came at this from a different perspective than a competitor that you all know," said Todd Humphrey, EVP of business development at Kobo.


He compared the company's strategy to Amazon.com, saying that as a former Amazon employee, Kobo contrasts with the US-based retailer in that it's positioned to support open standards.

"Amazon was early into the market but comes at it from a different approach. We wanted to come and be the open e-reading company - that is any device, any book, not a closed format."

The Kobo is designed for reading and features a 15cm screen, micro-SD slot and e-ink. The base model does not allow MP3 music, colour or video.

The device holds around 1 000 books with 2GB of internal memory, but this can be expanded with a memory card. The Kobo e-reader weighs 185g.

The company makes use of the epub format which indicates compatibility with a range of e-reader devices and tablets in the South African market.

"One of the things we have done is utilise the epub format which allows for you to have multiple books coming from multiple sources on multiple devices, unlike Amazon. That’s the one format that you can't put on this," said Humphrey.

Kobo has a library of three million books, with about a third of those available for free.


Users have to create an account to access the service and the device is only able to either download the books via a Wi-Fi network, or computer.

"We are not 3G enabled so you are either downloading through the web onto your computer and doing a direct synch. Most people are using this as a Wi-Fi device, downloading their books directly to the device," Humphrey said.

Kobo has around 10 million customers in 190 countries and has ensured that ensured that South Africans can buy books in Rand and is actively expanding the local library.

"It's localising the device; localising the currency; localising the catalogue; localising the web experience; and really trying to understand: 'Who is the end customer?'" said Humphrey.

The device has a battery life of one month and a retail price of R995, directly challenging some of the e-readers in the South African market.

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