Bookseller and stationer WHSmith has struck a deal to launch Kobo wifi touchscreen e-readers in the UK.
WHSmith will introduce devices in 750 high street, airport and station stores from Monday October 17.
Two WiFi devices - one described as the first wifi touchscreeen e-readers to be made widely available in this country - will be on offer with a recommended retail price of £89.99 and £109.99. A third device will be launched on the run up to Christmas.
Kobo is the number one e-book brand in Canada and Australia and users of the devices will have access to what it claims to be the biggest e-book store in the world with 2.2m titles. Almost half of the titles (1m) will be available for free to draw customers in. The retailer believes despite the free titles, consumers will still want to purchase new releases and best sellers.
WHSmith chief executive Kate Swann said: “This partnership with Kobo further extends our presence in this developing market whilst complementing our physical books business.”
WHSmith managing director for high street Steve Clarke said through the e-book market the retailer could attract incremental consumers, and so, drive sales. He explained that consumers buying physical books instore purchase three books each year on average, while typical e-book readers tend to read eight or nine books each year. WHSmith is hoping to attract these frequent readers to its extended venture.
Kobo chief executive Michael Serbinis said: “Kobo has spent the past three years building a strong presence internationally and partnering with WHSmith was a natural choice as we look to expand further into Europe.”