Kobo Touch Gets a Price Bump

Kobo quietly launched their new ad-supported Kobo Touch on Friday, but that wasn't the only surprise that day. I'm not sure when it happened, but Kobo also raised the price of the Kobo Touch. It's now $139 here in the US, but when it launched on originally cost $129. -- Update: Nope, it didn't get a price increase; the US price is still $129 It looks like the Kobo website kept redirecting me to the page with the Canadian price (even though I'm in the US). I don't know why their site was screwed up but somehow it was. BTW, this didn't just happen to me; Gizmodo, Teleread, and The Verge were all redirected to the wrong page. -- I asked around on Twitter last night and no one was sure when it happened, but we know that it did change. To be honest, I didn't notice until several stories yesterday about the Kobo Touch with Offers and how it saved you $40.  I snickered at first because I thought the bloggers had made a mistake. No, much to my surprise, the price had gone up.

And yes, I was surprised.  Who would expect Kobo to increase the price? The trend for gadgets has always been to lower the price, not increase it. But perhaps this is a sign that Kobo is looking to compete directly with Amazon instead of pitching their ereader as the cheaper alternative?

That would indeed be a change for Kobo. They launched their first Kobo eReader in early 2010 with a retail of $149, and that was about half the price of the Nook 3G and Kindle 2 at the time. They priced it lower than the competition because, well, it was less capable, but also so they could pitch it as being cheaper.

You might recall that the strategy backfired on Kobo. B&N and Amazon each responded by dropping the prices of their ereaders to below $200, and then they each released a Wifi equipped model for $149. That forced Kobo even lower and then it eventually led to the current situation where you can get a $99 Nook Touch or a $109 K4.

If you look at this price bump as a shift in branding then it isn't a surprise anymore. I suspect that Kobo are planing to cash in on the common belief that they are one of the  major ebookstores, and they want to stop being thought of as the cheaper alternative. The first step would be to raise the price of the Kobo Touch to $139; that lets them apply the same discount as on the ad-supported K3 and Kindle Touch.

One friend on Twitter suggested that this might be the first sign of Rakuten's influence, which makes a fair amount of sense given that it happened so soon after Rakuten bought Kobo. While it is plausible I don't know what's going on in their heads.

In any case, this price increase is a sign of changes coming.

About Nate Hoffelder (11379 Articles)
Nate Hoffelder is the founder and editor of The Digital Reader: "I've been into reading ebooks since forever, but I only got my first ereader in July 2007. Everything quickly spiraled out of control from there. Before I started this blog in January 2010 I covered ebooks, ebook readers, and digital publishing for about 2 years as a part of MobileRead Forums. It's a great community, and being a member is a joy. But I thought I could make something out of how I covered the news for MobileRead, so I started this blog."

2 Comments on Kobo Touch Gets a Price Bump

  1. Hi Nate. Sorry to poke a hole in your story but the Canadian version has always been $139, and that’s the one popping up.

    The url for the US version still shows $129: http://www.kobo.com/ereaders/kobo-touch-us.html

    Canadian Kobo: http://www.kobo.com/ereaders/kobo-touch.html

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