WHSmith moved surprisingly fast on this deal. Their ebookstore is already powered by Kobo even though the press release still isn’t out. But that’s good for readers, because it means that you can choose from the over 2 million titles that Kobo carries in stock.
WHSmith also has the Kobo Wifi and the Kobo Touch in stock on the website. It’s also going to be available in their 750 stores later this week. Retail has been set at £89 for the Kobo Wifi ($142) and £109 for the Kobo Touch ($173).
The new partnership covers the UK as well as Ireland, and it’s a good move for WHSmith. It’s also a great move for Kobo, who had been in the UK market for over 18 months now without getting any significant market share (my source indicated that they control under 5% of the UK book market).
Kobo also has reading apps for iOS, Android and Blackberry, and they will soon be releasing apps that have been rebranded for WHSmith. Kobo did this for Borders and they are in the process of releasing apps for their new French partner Fnac, so my guess is that WHSmith’s apps are in the work queue. That is great for WHSmith because their current iOS app doesn’t comply with Apple’s in-app purchase rules. It was pulled back in July and never replaced.
The Kobo Wifi is selling for the same price in the UK as the K4 (£89). That’s a clever move, but I still think the K4 is the better value. I have both devices, and I prefer the design of the K4 over that of the Kobo Wifi.