Not content to let Amazon hog the ebook limelight, WH Smith is selling two new ebook readers and access to over 2 million titles in partnership with Canadian firm Kobo.
The deal will see WH Smith's 750 stores across the UK -- including the more commuter-orientated shops in railway stations and airports -- selling the new e-readers from next week. With 2.2 million titles available through Kobo's online store, Smith's customers will have access to the UK's largest digital book catalogue, which will include over 1 million free titles.
Two ebook readers will be available: the £90 Kobo Wireless model and the £110 Kobo Touch, which -- as the name suggests -- is a touch-screen device. Both models use E-Ink, rather than the backlit LCD screens you'd find on tablets such as the iPad, so you can read for hours without feeling any eye strain. They'll both feature expandable memory and will be able to manage up to a month of reading time on a single charge.
The Kobo Touch measures 114mm wide, 165mm long and 10mm thick, which is about the same size as Amazon's new keyboard-less Kindle -- although the Kindle is slightly thinner at 9mm. It weighs 185g which is just slightly heavier than Amazon's offering, although you're unlikely to really notice the difference when you're out and about.
The two devices will be Wi-Fi only, so buying books on the go with 3G is out of the question. You'll need to head over to WH Smith's ebook store where you can browse the range, setup a Kobo account and buy the titles you want.
Sadly, if you haven't bought the books using the Wi-Fi on your device, you'll need to sync your books with the Kobo software on your PC -- which is certainly not as simple as the wireless syncing offered with Amazon's Kindle.
It's going to be an interesting battle and we're looking forward to seeing what happens. What do you think of Smith's move? Should it leave the ebook game to Amazon, or is there always room for more players? Publish your literary criticism in the comments section below or on our Facebook page.