The Challenge

Make the Kobo digital reading devices approachable, personal, and sophisticated.

Impact

Kobo saw record sales of its digital reading devices during the 2011 holiday season, and was named “Editor’s Pick for Best E-Reader” by Wired magazine.

The Outcome

A friendly, tactile experience approximating holding and reading a paperback book.

Kobo Studio3455

Bringing the tactile experience of holding a physical book to e-reading.

International e-reading service Kobo, Inc., with more than 2.5 million digital book, magazine, and newspaper titles, approached IDEO to gain a strong foothold in the shifting publishing landscape. The design challenge was to create a new suite of advanced reading devices with the best aspects of paperback books—tangibility, portability, and a small footprint.

To make digital reading devices feel approachable, personal, and sophisticated, designers focused on the intersection of physical and digital interface design. The teams created a family of affordable e-readers with clearly differentiated feature sets, and the resulting design provides a reading experience that approximates holding and reading a paperback book. No larger than a novel, the front of the e-reader is designed for the reader’s eyes, while the back features a signature “quilted” back shell designed to create a pleasurable, tactile memory for the hands.

The Kobo family includes the Kobo WiFi, with a 6-inch glare-free E-Ink screen; the smaller Kobo Touch, with infrared touch-screen interface, E-Ink Pearl screen, and faster processor; and the Kobo Vox, a 7-inch Android tablet model with social and digital sharing options.

Kobo saw record sales of its digital reading devices during the 2011 holiday season, and was named “Editor’s Pick for Best e-reader” by Wired magazine.