WH Smith has announced that it will sell the Kobo Touch eReader in more than 750 stores and online, starting on Monday 17 October. The e-reader, which has a 6-inch E Ink screen, will be available in four colours -- lilac, blue, silver and black -- for £109.99. The Kobo Wi-Fi version will also go on sale at £89.99, which is 99p more than the equivalent Kindle Wi-Fi. Amazon has not yet announced a UK version of the Kindle Touch.
Kobo supports a wider range of formats than the Kindle, including the important ePub standard, plus TXT, HTML, RTF and PDF documents. Kobo e-readers can also handle Mobi format ebooks, and the CBZ and CBR comic book formats, but cannot read Amazon's Mobi-based copy-protected AZW format.
WH Smith says "consumers will have access to the largest ebook catalogue in UK with over 2.2 million titles- featuring a rich assortment of local content, merchandised to the tastes and preferences of readers across England, with the latest releases and bestsellers from popular English authors." It can also access large numbers of free ebooks available from sources such as Project Gutenberg.
Many titles are already available at WH Smith's ebook store.
The Kobo Touch eReader has 2GB of memory, but up to 32GB can be added via an SD card slot, enabling the storage of up to 30,000 books. As with the Kindle, users can also read books on other platforms including PCs and mobile phones. Kobo also supports a social platform, called Reading Life.
The Touch measures 114mm x 165mm (4.5 x 6.5 inches), is 10mm (0.4 inches) thick, and weighs 185g (6.5 ounces). Kobo says batteries last for about a month.
Kobo is described as "a global leader in e-reading with over 5 million users worldwide", but WH Smith will find it hard to compete with Amazon's enormous market power, and the Kindle's already entrenched grip on the market. WH Smith will have an advantage in being able to sell e-readers to its existing high street customers, but nowadays, most people can shop online.