Toronto-based ebook reader Kobo and Waterloo-based RIM have teamed up to do something that I think is a first for ebooks: make them social. Announced today at DevCon (rather overshadowed by the Blackberry PlayBook) Kobo has integrated their Kobo ereader software for Blackberrys with Blackberry Messenger so you can chat with friends about the books you’re buying and reading.
Kobo talks about this connection with the social and books as a first for Blackberrys, but I think it’s a first for any ereader and I’m actually jealous of Blackberry owners now! The concept is pretty simple, invite your Blackberry Messenger friends to connect with you through the Kobo app. Then you can chat about a book you’re interested in buy or discuss books you’re reading. The video (below) even makes it look like you could have a virtual book club all through the app:
Now, the downside of this very cool addition is that I don’t see how this is going to be easily replicated on other platforms. Blackberry Messenger only works Blackberry to Blackberry to bring in iOS, Android, and other users you’d have to switch to something more open like Jabber through GTalk or maybe even Facebook (gasp, the horror). I hope that Kobo’s exploration into social reading catches on so I can soon chat with friends about books I’m reading and reviewing. Personally, it would be awesome and it could really make the local “book club” a much more social (and global) experience.