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Cool-er EBook Reader: Intuitive Marketing or Blatant Copying?

 


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The Cool-er eBook reader is one of the new kids on the block, appearing in March 2009, but it has already taken the UK and much of Europe by storm and is starting to make significant inroads into the American market. Part of this success is due to its unique marketing methods, not only through the use of pretty girls at public exhibitions and demonstrations, but also possibly using the iPod as a marketing ploy that got the blogs and forums humming with the name.

Cool-Er is making its place in the e-reader market through what appears to be some pretty intuitive marketing techniques with a product that certainly does what it says it does at a price that competes with anything on the market.

It has taken the UK in particular by storm, and a large part of Europe with it, and it is perhaps no coincidence that the Amazon Kindle is not available in either markets. One cannot help but think that Amazon has made a bad marketing blunder by failing to offer the Kindle in the UK or Europe. While it does not compete with the Kindle for functionality, its price is certainly a lot better for the average user.

One aspect of the Cool-er that must be commented on is that its marketing appears to be a bit unique. When the founder of the company that makes the Cool-er, Neil Jones, was asked his thoughts on the device he replied that he was confident that it would be Number 3 in the USA and 2 in the UK, then after being in the market for a short time revised that to Number 2 in the USA and 1 in the UK. That's confidence for you, and anybody reading that would be interested in finding out why, and perhaps in giving his product a go.

Interead started off by developing an eBook website known as coolerbooks.com, with a view to marketing the Sony Reader to go with the downloads. However, when Sony was unable to guarantee a supply of the readers to meet his projected demand, he decided to make his own. Cool-er was born as the lightest and smallest e-reader on the market, and also the most affordable, and in eight bright colours.

It was marketed as being compatible with all eBook formats, and could operate with books from any store using the ePUB format, including its own eBook store that also permits its books to be shared, just like regular paper books. He stated it as being the “iPod moment" that e-readers had been waiting for, and the product looks like the iPod Nano. That comment, and the similarity with the iPod, are very significant.

This gave rise to a storm of protests and other comments on blogs and forums all round the world, as people commented on his ‘blatant’ knock-off of the iPod look and his presumption in making such a comment as “iPod moment". This provided more publicity to the Cool-er than any amount of regular marketing ever could, and many people deliberately checked up on the product to be more able to shout it down - and many ended up purchasing it because of its very attractive looks and price!

You can Google ‘Cool-er forum’ or blog, and find out exactly the amount of publicity this has provided. Was this deliberate? Did Neil Jones know exactly what his comment was going to achieve? If so he is a marketing genius.

He has now stated that a new Cool-er model will become available round about January to compete against the Kindle. It will be bigger and better, but has refused to name any improvements, other than to state that the USB loading port would be retained. Touch screen technology and wireless connectivity are possible enhancements, he stated, and the new model with more suited to education and reading newspapers and magazines.

Interead has also hooked up with Google who has provided access to the Google e-books library, to add 500,000 public domain books to the 300,000 titles on their regular Cooler Books website. The Google books will not be available in the USA for copyright reasons.

What marketing will he use for this new product, we wonder? Will it be the scantily clad women that were used in previous shows and public presentations? This, too, got the forums talking, and it seems that Interead has a different approach to marketing than that regularly used by high-tech businesses. It certainly gets their name distributed online and their product discussed, and that is the ultimate objective of any marketing campaign.

So what are the attributes of the Cool-er, other than their unique way of manipulating blogs and forums, deliberately or otherwise? It's all been said really - it is a good e-reader using E ink technology at a very affordable price, and books in any format can be added by means of a USB port or SD card. Though according to “An Introduction to Popular E-book File Formats " each of these formats has its own advantages and disadvantages (Digital Book Readers). It's ePub format is now being taken on by Sony, and any e-reader that has ties with Google will soon benefit when Google start to offer commercial books rather than only those in the public domain, towards the end of this year.

There are few doubts in the minds of many people that the marketing successes of Cool-er were the result of some very astute marketing techniques, involving public presentations but most of all a deliberate similarity to the iPod Nano that had its name mentioned so often that it couldn't fail. Were it serendipity, then why did Neil Jones use the term ‘iPod moment’ when discussing its launch?

Marco Gustafsson is author of articles on eBook Readers, e-inc technology and electronic books. Find more information here on http://www.digital-book-readers.com/

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