Waterproof e-reader launched for bathtime bookworms

New device will allow readers to fully immerse themselves in their reading

Dodie Smith's Cassandra, in I Capture the Castle, would "bask first, wash second and then read as long as the hot water holds out" when taking a bath – a practice which the advent of the e-reader has made harder for careful bibliophiles. Today Kobo, addressing one of the more frequent criticisms levelled at the electronic devices, has announced the launch of its first waterproof e-reader, meaning, it says, that "readers can now enjoy worry-free reading wherever they go".

 The Kobo Aura H20, which the Canada-based company says is the world's first premium waterproof "E Ink e-reader", is waterproof for up to 30 minutes in one metre of water with the port cover closed. This means, said Kobo, that readers will be able to enjoy ebooks "anywhere they want to read, including previously risky places like the bath or at the beach".

Michael Tamblyn, Kobo president, said that when the company asked its customers "what held them back from reading more ebooks, many told us they love to read in the bath, by the pool, or on the beach, but believed that devices and water didn't mix".

"As we dug deeper, we found that more than 60% of customers surveyed said they would love to be able read near water without worry," said Tamblyn. "We designed the Kobo Aura H2O, our latest premium e-reader, so that ebooks could be just as common at the beach or in the bath as they are on the bus or in bed."

The launch of the new e-reader – available from October – comes as new data from Nielsen, reported by the Bookseller , shows that tablets are overtaking e-readers as the preferred digital reading device. According to the magazine, a Nielsen's survey shows that 51% of book buyers in the first quarter of 2014 owned a tablet to use as a dedicated e-reader, compared to 25% who owned a device specifically made for books. Last year in the same period, 33% owned a tablet and 25% an e-reader. Although the research shows that more people still buy books on e-readers than on tablets, the gap is now closing, with 37% buying books on tablets compared with 28% in 2013, and 46% buying books on e-readers this year, a fall from 61% in 2013.

Powered by Guardian.co.ukThis article was written by Alison Flood, for theguardian.com on Wednesday 27th August 2014 13.21 Europe/London

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