Kobo 2 to hit Australia before Christmas

Borders' eBook Mk2 looms

The Kobo eBook

The Kobo eBook

Local book retailer, REDGroup Retail, will offer the next generation of its Kobo eBook reader devices in Australia before Christmas, as well as an expansion in its eBook line-up that will see several major publishers add titles to its library.

The company first launched the Kobo eReader device in Australia in May, primarily through its Borders chain, but also in Angus & Robertson, which it also owns. At the time, there was a paucity of options for Australians interested in the emerging eBook scene, although both Amazon and Apple have since that time expanded their offerings.

Company spokesperson, Malcolm Neill, said the group hadn’t confirmed a release date yet for mark 2 of the Kobo, but it was planning on a launch before Christmas.

Kobo 2 improves on the original model in several ways, the most notable of which is the addition of Wi-Fi access, which will allow readers to download books wirelessly as the Amazon Kindle and Apple iPad do. However, the device also now comes in three colours — pearlised lilac, onyx and metallic silver.

Earlier, Apple made a major announcement in Australia with relation to the publishers supporting its iBookstore marketplace. It added publishers such as Macmillan, Hachette and HarperCollins to its list. However, Borders isn’t being left behind.

Neill said the company had recently inked a similar deal with Hachette, and was working with the publisher at the moment to get its titles into the Kobo store.

The first Macmillan title entered the store last week. The company already boasted the support of a large number of publishers at launch, promising that more than 2 million titles — including “a great range of dedicated Australian content” would eventually be available through the platform.

One advantage that the company may enjoy as the Australian market for eBooks grows increasingly competitive is the agnostic nature of its software.

Early next week Samsung will launch its flagship Android tablet in Australia — the Galaxy Tab.

Unlike Apple, the Korean manufacturer has not developed its own eBook store for Australia — instead shipping with the Kobo store installed on the device by default.

And the Kobo store also runs on Apple devices such as the iPad, and even other mobile platforms such as Research in Motion’s BlackBerry.

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