Kobo Touch brings ebooks to independent bookstores

Thinking about getting a Kindle? You might want to reconsider. Selected by WIRED Magazine as the best e-reader of 2012, Kobo Touch, priced at just $99, has something that Kindle doesn’t: it allows readers to buy ebooks from their favorite independent bookstores. It also has a library of more than 3 million books, and features hordes of free classics. Because ebooks, unlike hardcovers, sell for the same price across the board, whether you purchase them from Amazon or from the independent just around the block, Kobo is the perfect way to support the bookstores you love while getting great ebooks at the best price on a first-class e-reader. And

Kobo Glo, at just $129.99 with crisper graphics and adjustable lighting, is even better.

“The most natural e-ink reader we’ve ever used.” Wired Magazine

Kobo Glo 

Kobo Glo

Back in August, Kobo partnered with the American Booksellers Association, which has 2,000 member stores. When you purchase the Kobo ereader at your local indie, a portion of every ebook you purchase on that device will go back to your bookstore. Even if you buy it somewhere else, you can still purchase ebooks for the device through your local store. It’s no surprise that many of the participating stores are in California, home of a very exuberant independent bookstore culture. You can also purchase the Kobo Touch online through buy.com. I talked to the folks at Kobo, who said that the device won’t be available on their own website until the new year; this seems rather odd and left me scratching my head, but it’s just one more reason to head to Green Apple, Alabama Booksmith, Page & Palette, or any of these wonderful independent bookstores, all of which carry Kobo ereaders and accessories.

“The Kobo ereader Touch edition makes massive ultra-modern leaps.” Huffington Post

The partnership isn’t just good for stores; it’s also great for readers. Kobo is no newcomer to the e-reading game. It’s been around since 2009, and the Kobo library has more than 3 million titles and counting. Previously, if you wanted to buy an ebook from your local indie, you had to use Google Play. Unfortunately, Google Play was a maddeningly unfriendly reading platform, clunky and utterly lacking in intuitiveness. For people who love reading ebooks on a slim, light device, and who enjoy point and click ordering, there really wasn’t a good option for shopping indie until now. Kobo changes that, bringing the simplicity of Amazon & B&N shopping to independents.

“This Kobo eReader Touch does have the look of a winner: there’s a 6-inch Pearl E-Ink screen that uses Neonode’s zForce infrared touch technology to let you navigate it as a touchscreen. I’m looking at the silly buttons on my Kindle in shame…” Gizmodo

Kobo also has its own self-publishing program, Kobo Writing Life–which I hope will ultimately rival the Kindle publishing platform.

As a reader and writer, I’m really excited about the Kobo-ABA partnership. We writers absolutely rely on our local bookstores to get the word out about our books. We all know that Amazon poses an increasing threat to authors, readers, and book culture through its predatory pricing. Amazon’s goal is nothing less than to shut down bookstores. However, until now, trying to convince people  to buy an ebook from their local bookstore instead of from Amazon was a hard sell. It was just too difficult. No longer. There’s no substitute for hand-selling, for the enthusiastic book lover behind the counter who recommends a book because he has read it and loved it. Now, that well-read bookseller who knows your name can also sell you an ereader. This is a very, very good thing.

If you’re considering purchasing an ereader for yourself or someone else, the Kobo Touch, is the perfect choice. There’s also a mini-version that retails for $79, and the Kobo Glow, which is backlit for night reading, which sells for $129. View Kobo ebooks.

Participating stores in the San Francisco Bay Area include Green Apple, Mrs. Dalloways, Copperfields, and many more.

Purchase Kobo Glo.

Kobo Wifi eReader

Michelle Richmond is the author of the international bestseller The Year of Fog and three other books of fiction. Visit her at michellerichmond.com or bayareabookdoctor.com.

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Sans Serif is the blog of author Michelle Richmond.

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