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TeleRead did a great job bringing you all the news from the Kobo and Kindle press events yesterday. Now that the dust has settled a little, how are people feeling about the new stuff on its way? A few trends I feel are worth commenting on:

GEOGRAPHY MATTERS

I personally think the Kindle is a superior product to the Kobo, but in this area of technology, geography matters. The Kobo is a much, much bigger deal in Canada and many international markets than it is in the United States, and that should not be underestimated. Every single person I know who owns a Kobo only bought one because, when they decided they wanted an e-book reader, they went to the bookstore … and Kobo readers were what they had.

Yes, you can buy some models of the Kindle at Best Buy and other electronic stores. But people go to electronics store to buy electronics; they go to bookstores to buy books. Being the one who is co-branded with Canada’s largest bookstore chain has given Kobo a huge edge in gaining the market share here.

And of course, now that so many Canadian readers are used to the Kobo interface, and are buying their books from the Kobo store, and are experimenting with some of Kobo’s better proprietary features—like the reading stats—they are quite happy to stay with Kobo …

FEATURES MATTER MORE THAN THEY USED TO

Back in the old days, when all you could do was read, people didn’t care so much about one brand or another. But now that more robust features are becoming available—and some of them proprietary at that—people are starting to shop for them.

My sweetie was happy as a clam with his Kobo Touch a week ago, but now that all the new stuff is coming, he’s eying the Kobo Glo. The lit screen, to him, is worth the upgrade. He’ll buy it just for that. Similarly, I have chosen to upgrade in the past for features like text to speech, multilingual dictionary support and even form factor.

The Kobo Mini is very enticing to me because I’ve been battling RSO RSI (Repetitive Stress Injury) issues after a summer of reading on the iPad, and I’d love a tiny and lightweight reader. I still think the Kobo UI needs work, and I loathe their iOS app, so I’m on the fence. But having something with this form factor definitely interests me, and if I play with one in the store, I could possibly be enticed …

FOR SERIOUS READERS, THESE ARE GLORIOUS DAYS

Instant dictionary lookup. On-the-fly word and sentence translation. Seamless Wikipedia integration. Reading stats. Estimations for reading time that customize based on your actual pace. Five-thousand books on one pocket-sized gizmo. Start reading (or listening!) on one device, and resume later on another.

If you’d predicted any of this to Little Kid Joanna, it would have seemed like a Star Trek episode. Regardless of whether one prefers this brand or that, a Kobo or a Kindle or a Nook, a tablet or a dedicated reader, there is some very cool stuff happening. I can’t wait to see what’s next!

 
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