WH Smith hurls itself into the e-reading wrestle ring

13 October 2011

WHSmith-to-launch-eBook-r-001 Look out Amazon, because WH Smith are coming for you money and your glory and maybe even your women as well. How? By blowing the Kindle clean out of the water with the UK’s first wi-fi touchscreen e-reader, which they’ll be launching later this month.

They’ve done it in collaboration with Kobo (no, us neither) and will sell two versions of the device, which also appears to be called Kobo, in their stores, with customers able to download ebooks via the WH Smith site.

We’re mocking and scoffing a little bit, but Kobo users will have access to 2.2 million titles, so it’s clearly not a half-baked project. The touchscreen version of the Kobo is available to order now for £109.99 while the non-touchscreen version is £89.99.

The announcement coincided with the news that WH Smith’s group profits are up 4% to £93 million in spite of a 5% fall in high street sales.


  • Darren
    I would be shocked If this is not a total fail. Amazon beat them to it, and are an Empire. WH Smiths died along with the local high street, I am surprised they did not go down with Woolworths, as they are the book/stationary version of woolworts Its a gamble to go with this device, as WH Smith have had financial difficulties in the past, so if they go under, where does that leave you with downloading more books?
  • Emma
    They've had huge success with this in Canada, running alongside their major bookstore, Chapters.
  • Will
  • DragonChris
    In before "Deathwatch: WH Smiths"
  • Mark C.
    Are any of those 2.2 million titles *not* the same shit selection of chicklit, misery junkie books and ghost-written celebrity biographies that seem to infest their bricks and mortar shops?
  • Mark H.
    Touch screen isn't a killer feature with regards to e-readers. However some form of integral light would be.
  • Inspector G.
    Did you want a large bar of Dairy Milk to go with that? Are you sure, its only a pound?
  • npfiii
    I bought a Kobo Wi-Fi from the Borders website about 6 months before they went tit's up, and it's a great e-reader. The exchange rate at the time meant I only paid £68, including shipping from the US...
  • Sawyer
    Not sure how this fits in with Smith's strategy of stocking books only to sell overpriced chilled beverages. There's no money for them in books anymore, as Tesco can undercut on anything in the top 100, and Waterstones/Amazon have the market for anything more obscure. Hence why they love giving out free Lego with the newspapers, even if they run out immediately. It brings people in for the drinks...

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