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Kobo lays bets on new features, readers set to debut this fall

Notwithstanding the fact that, in its most recent quarterly report, Indigo Books and Music noted a decline in sales of e-readers year-over-year, Toronto-based tech company (and former Indigo property) Kobo is ready to launch a slew of new products, including a dedicated bookstore aimed at kids.

Publishers Weekly points to a Manhattan event in which Kobo CEO Michael Serbinis announced the Sept. 16 release of a new suite of e-readers ranging in price from U.S. $150 to $400. Serbinis also announced the debut of Kobo Kids, a subsection of the Kobo bookstore that would market directly to children.

From PW:

Kobo is launching Kobo Kids, a new e-bookstore within the [Kobo] store, that will offer more than 100,000 kids e-books, in addition to offering kids’ accounts (tied to their parents and restricted to kids titles in the Kobo store), safe search, fun reading statistics and awards for kids and an allowances feature that allows parents to set a pre-paid budget for their kids to purchase e-books.

While apparently convinced the children are the future, Kobo also seems to be hedging its bets on aspects of online reading that are, at best, extra-literary.

Serbinis also announced a partnership with a tech company called Pocket, whose software would allow Kobo users the ability to archive articles read online and make them accessible on a Kobo device. Other new features would reformat magazine articles for tablet reading, “reducing ‘the pinching and zooming’ readers have to do to read or see layouts.” And there is Beyond the Book:

a new social reading feature that adds a layer of information (it’s like having Wikipedia inside your book) that offers in-book links to info about characters, plots, the authors and more, available to readers without having to go to the Web. Kobo is also working with a variety of well-known authors (among them Margaret Atwood) and a variety of celebrities to offer Collections, a feature that provides recommendations to books and other content.