BEA, Kobo, and A Lot of People

Yesterday was day 1 of BEA, and I took a lot of pictures. I also took my shoes off to walk around part of the time because oh, my GOSH, do your feet get sore traversing the cavern of book booths that is the Javits Center. My day started off with a conversation at the Digital Book World booth, where I was asked about romance readers and digital reading, and because it was on camera, I can guarantee I probably had some sort of smudge on my face.

Then I walked past the Kobo booth and got so excited I leapt over two people to grab one of the new Kobo readers and play with it. And take pictures and video. And play with it some more. I was using up every spare minute before my ARC signing because I wanted to try out the new Kobo as much as possible. Kobo has a lot of things going for it in terms of “Ability to Seduce Me Away from the Kindle.” I use the Kindle because it is so easy to load books, and since I interact a lot with digital files, manuscripts, galleys, and files from NetGalley, I prefer to email the files to my device than hook it up and side load them every day. I deplore the organization of the Kindle, and Kobo has worked very hard on the file organization options for the device. That was the one feature I couldn’t play with of course.

The new touchscreen Kobo feels about as lightweight as the original Kobo. If you pick it up, you might be surprised how light it is. It’s smaller than the Kindle, and the screen takes up most of the face of the device. There’s a thin metal “home” button at the bottom, and buttons on the top and side, including the power button slider.

The touchscreen gave me some trouble initially because I’m used to the touchscreen that you have to physically touch and press down on to get the result you want. Because the perimeter of the Kobo has an infrared sensor creating a grid across the face of the device, the movement of your finger is much more effective than actual pressure (heh), as if it senses the motion to signal a page turn more than it senses a pressing swipe across the surface of the screen. The first few times I tried it, I kept pressing harder and harder which didn’t work, but when I barely touched the surface and swiped across to turn the page, it worked marvelously, and quickly as well.

Here, have a video with terrible audio and video quality! I was right next to a loudspeaker and I had to shout over it – my apologies for that.

According to the spec sheet I have, the device weighs about 200 grams, and comes in the silver, black and lilac colors, plus a new light blue that’s very pretty. It has a WiFi connection onboard, and a Micro USB slot (YAY. Another CABLE) and it takes micro SD cards as well.

What I found interesting were some of the onboard options. Here, have some pics.


This is sleeping screen of the Kobo. The photo is not crisp due to my camera, for which I apologize. I do like the amount of contrast between the background and the text on the eInk screen. (Also, that is not my shoe, though I think those shoes are very nice for the amount of walking that is BEA.)


This is the home screen: you can either touch the menu at the top, or touch the covers of the books in the middle to start reading them.


This is the “books” area, where you can choose from three display options in terms of how you want to see your files (bottom right corner menu). It’s a little hard to see but under the title and author name is a note of what file format the book is. Most of the ones on the demo device are ePUBs but the device can read ePUB, PDF, and Adobe DRM.


The “Reading Life” section is very interesting. The device tracks what you’re reading, how much you read, and has a social component to it that connects to Facebook if you wish.


Here is a sample of the “Reading Life” stats – I had read a few pages of this book, and the Kobo Touch could tell me all about my few minutes of reading. I’m not sure if this is a feature I’d become addicted to, but it’s an interesting social connectivity component to the device. I am pretty solitary in my reading, personally.

So that’s the new Kobo. I’m going to the Kobo party this evening where I assume there will be more devices to play with, so I’ll try to get some extra time this evening. I was limited yesterday because I found the booth at 10:10 or so and my signing was at 10:30.

Want some pictures of the signing? I have some!


Sourcebooks’ booth had pins and, for some lucky folks, tshirts with “Authors are my Rock Stars” on the front. The bowl of pins with the KISS-ed out Shakespeare were VERY popular.

When I got to the booth, there was a line. A LINE. I confess to major happypants about that, because it was hugely flattering and so very very cool. A LINE. SRSLY. Thank you for the line! I’m sorry you had to wait in it!


And look – some of the ARCs had the cover attached upside down. Like rare stamps, y’all. WOO. If you got an upside down ARC, I hope it gives you as much entertainment as it did me.

I signed for about an hour, then ran out of ARCs and wanted to go make Xerox copies of the book to give to the people who didn’t get one. I’m sorry, especially because of the line.

Then I wandered around to see what the other booths were up to in terms of mayhem and shenanigans. I always like to stop at the Harlequin booth because it is huge, and always filled with people and signings.


I walked in during the Kimani signing, and there was a crowd around the desk of authors signing books. Check out the hair of the lady on the right! Awesome!

I also ran into Barbara Vey at BEA, and she was wandering about causing all sorts of trouble. She was like a one-woman mosh pit. (I kid. If you’ve never met Barbara, she is among the nicest ladies you’ll ever meet, and one of my favorite people to see at conferences. She also has the best stories. The woman is fearless.)


This huge rack of Harlequin novels was UNDER GLASS so people wouldn’t walk off with them. I think there’s one of every Harlequin line in there. I still find it amazing that at one glance, anyone passingly familiar with the Harlequin books can tell which line a book belongs to. That’s so cool.


In the central area of BEA, between the exhibits and the food, there was a silent auction to benefit the American Booksellers Foundation for Free Expression fund for Free Speech in Children’s Books. From their website: “The new ABFFE Fund for Free Speech in Children’s Books will promote understanding of the importance of free speech for children and young readers and provide support to the students, parents, teachers, librarians and booksellers who fight the hundreds of challenges to children’s books that occur in schools and libraries every year.” WORD.

I’ll be back later this afternoon with more updates from BEA, including my conversation with one of the acquiring editors at Amazon Publishing.

One last note: BEA is full of booksellers, bloggers, press, even more librarians than you might expect (YAY!), publishing professionals, data and tech companies, and an endless sea of booths. But readers are not included. It’s an industry convention—an industry, I might add, that I think pays way too much attention to itself. I wish BEA would consider doing a lottery of day passes for readers who are eager to meet authors they love and get advanced copies of books they are anticipating. More readers, please.



General Bitching...

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  1. 1
    Donna says:

    I guess no one else is awake yet. Wow. So, thanks for the virtual tour Sarah! And you deserve that line.

  2. 2
    Sabrina says:

    Thank you for sharing with those of us who couldn’t be there! Love the pics and as always you do awesome ereader reviews/tests.

  3. 3
    Amy says:

    Thanks for sharing! And I love that you clarified that those weren’t your shoes. Although they were very nice shoes, they still weren’t yours. Oh, you made me laugh again.

  4. 4
    Hannah says:

    Thanks for sharing the stories and photos. Now I wonder where I can see a Kobo Touch in person since most of the Borders stores in my area have closed.

    My spam word is being69: no, unfortunately I’m at work at the moment.

  5. 5
    Chicklet says:

    I wish BEA would consider doing a lottery of day passes for readers who are eager to meet authors they love and get advanced copies of books they are anticipating. More readers, please.

    I wish that would happen, too, but I’m not holding my breath. It seems like publishers love to talk to anyone *but* the people who actually buy and read the books. Authors and booksellers like to talk to us, but the publishers just add more DRM and agency pricing and go on their way.

  6. 6
    jayhjay says:

    Thanks for the review of the new Kobo. I have been hearing lots of good things. I am not sure I can justify getting rid of my nook yet, but it sounds great. 

    One question, does the screen get smudgy? That is my biggest beef with my iphone but I would think it would be even more annoying if it happens on a reader.  The nook touch screen gets smudgy but it is not the part the actual book is on so it doesn’t matter.

  7. 7
    Sandra says:

    The Kobe sounds nice. Any word on the new nook that B&N announced yesterday?

  8. 8
    SB Sarah says:

    @jayhjay I can’t really tell, as I didn’t play with it long enough (and my hands were clean so I didn’t smudge it up). If I can find one tonight I’ll try to make a mess.

    @sandra: I haven’t seen the new nook but if I do I’ll go hide in a corner and see what tricks it can pull off!

  9. 9
    Nicole says:

    OMG, I know the woman with the rainbow hair.  There is no hiding in the digital age.

  10. 10
    AmyW says:

    Sigh. Why did I buy a first generation Kobo?

  11. 11
    LG says:

    The Kobo looks kind of nice, although I, too, would worry about smudges. My Nook gets smudging on the Touch part. I wonder, if you have a screen protector on the Kobo, does the touch screen become less sensitive? I thought about getting a screen protector for the touch part of my Nook, but I didn’t after I read that even customer support said that screen protectors made the touch screen part much less sensitive.

    Since I only just got my Nook maybe a couple months ago, it doesn’t matter what awesome thing comes out right now (unless the price tag were a good bit under $100) – I think I’ll just use my Nook and wait until more awesome things have come out in the future. What I’d really like is something I can not only read e-books on, but also something with a screen big enough that I can read manga on. I can read manga on my Nook right now, but you can’t zoom and the screen is just a little too small for some manga font sizes. I’m not desperate enough to want to shell out another $120-140, though.

  12. 12
    Lisa says:

    I’m totally sympathetic to the readers who’d love to meet authors and get books and swag, but I cringe at the thought of them admitting even more people to BEA at the Javits Center. My claustrophobia meter would bust through the red zone in a nanosecond; as it is, waiting in line at Harlequin for the YA authors just about did me in.

  13. 13
    Cialina says:

    Wow wow wow. I love the new Kobo. Thanks so much for showing us what it’s like! I’ll try very hard not to be lured into buying one.

  14. 14
    Hannah's Sister says:

    Lady with the coloured hair is the owner of Bermuda Bookstore, the best bookstore in Bermuda! (am I allowed to put up shameless plugs on here?)
    She’s also my fabulous sister. =)

  15. 15
    sammy says:

    I have one of the original kobos (and a sony pocket e-reader).  I have tried – for a month each – a Kindle and a Nook.

    The only way anyone is prying my kobo from me is if one of us dies or if I get a new one when they come out.  They are just so easy to use and so lightweight and easy to hold….love it.  Other ereaders are clunky by comparison. So jealous you got to try a new one!

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