Swedish based book giant Adlibris announced this past Wednesday that they were offering a re-branded version of the popular BeBook One in Sweden at a one-time low introductory price of just 1495 SEK (about 206 USD or 151 Euros). The ereader called the Letto comes with a Swedish menu and is pre-loaded with 4 Swedish language books as well as a voucher good for one free ebook.
The news hit the Swedish press on Wednesday and by Saturday evening, the offer was closed as apparently the interest was huge. At the same time, Bokus, another well-known book seller in Scandinavia, released the news that it would be selling the Cybook Opus for 1995 SEK (275 USD or 202 Euros) to the first 100 customers. After the introductory offer, the price will rise to 2895 SEK (399 USD or 293 Euros). The Opus will be pre-loaded with 7 Swedish language ebooks from Nordstedts.
We can assume that this offer was also quickly devoured by ebook reader enthusiasts in Sweden. This is proof that the electronic reader wars are beginning in Scandinavia. Adlibris is the largest online book retailer in the Nordic countries and it will be selling ebooks through its online bookstore. Owners of other electronic reader brands will also be able to purchase books from Adlibris in the Epub format. The Letto features e-ink technology. In addition to the Swedish menu, there will be 500 Swedish titles available at the time of the Feb 23rd launch.
Pär Svärdson, CEO of Adlibris had said that there has been a lot of interest in Sweden about e-books but since there were no ereaders available that publishers simply lost interest. He also said that since manufacturers of ebook readers did not see a market for ebooks in Sweden that none of the manufacturers chose to launch their devices in the country. This is why Adlibris decided to jump into the ebook reader game and surely it was a move wisely made. This brings up an interesting thought.
Just about a week ago I contacted both Sony and Kindle's customer service departments to ask them both the same question. Considering all of the hype in the news regarding the Kindle and Sony Readers 'going international' I wanted to know if both companies could tell me whether or not their electronic readers supported the Swedish language. The odd thing was that neither Kindle nor Sony offered to give me a direct 'no'-although Kindle was the closest to a flat out "no". I was told that neither could 'guarantee' that Swedish text would appear correctly on their devices. This brings me to this point: Wouldn't it be logical, not to mention fair to international consumers, for both Kindle and Sony to come clean with the language issue? Tell consumers straight out what the devices can and cannot handle.
I was given the direct impression that neither support person I chatted with had any idea how to answer my question as strange as that may sound. Anyway, it's really great that Swedes can now enjoy this wonderful technology and have devices that clearly operate in their native language. Adlibris should be commended for taking this giant step.