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Imagine turning the page of the latest best-selling novel and receiving a notification that, right at that very moment, President Barack Obama is reading the same book and is on the very same page. You have the option of talking about the book with him. What would you say?
Today Kobo, the maker of the third most popular ereader in the world with 4.9 million users, announced Kobo Pulse, a social reading platform that gives each page of every book a “pulse.” The strength of the pulse is dictated by who and how many people are reading, what they are saying and what they are thinking. Kobo Pulse readers can give a book a life. Readers can connect with friends, share their opinions of the story and engage in discussions.
The coolest part is the ability to connect with anyone reading the same book. Friends, strangers, even the President, if he happens to have a Kobo.
Kobo Pulse, an extension of Kobo’s Reading Life platform, is also integrated with Facebook. Which is interesting, because Kobo was the only ereader present at the recent F8 conference.
“We’re the only ones the view social as a core part of the experience,” says Kobo CEO Michael Serbinis in an interview with VentureBeat. “That has been our mission from day one. We believe ereading is about shopping and reading but, most importantly, it’s about sharing and expressing.”
Serbinis describes Kobo and its social reading platform as “a natural fit” for Facebook’s new Open Graph (turns Web pages into a social graph) and Timeline (a new way to share who you are with photos on your Facebook profile). Kobo Pulse activity will show up in the new Facebook Ticker, and a person’s reading activity will be reflected in Timeline.
Just in case you were wondering, Serbinis says Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg has a black Kobo.
Kobo Pulse will be available for free initially in Kobo’s eReading App for iPhone and iPad users, and will be quickly extended to Android, Kobo eReaders and additional platforms. The new Facebook integration features will roll out gradually over the coming months.
“Every book has a life of its own and that pulse ebbs and flows based on the time of day and time of year,” says Serbinis. “We are opening the book and enabiling readers to tap into that pulse as they are reading. This is a revolution in books and how we read.”
Kobo is backed by majority shareholder Indigo Books & Music Inc, Cheung Kong Holdings and institutional investors.