Boeing 737 MAX 7

Global Eagle Entertainment (GEE) and Southwest Airlines have joined the developing trend of helping publishers discover new distribution options.

Recent initiatives of collaboration between publishing houses, e-book distributors, airlines and airports enticing travelers to discover new books via Wi-Fi portals have included JetBlue’s partnership with publishers to distribute book samples and periodicals through the Fly-Fi platform, and Simon & Schuster’s partnership with Foli to distribute books at 50 United States airports.    

“We’re very excited to partner with Kobo to provide a unique in-flight digital e-book experience,” says Alexis Steinman, senior vice-president of Digital Products at GEE. “Reading is one of the most popular forms of entertainment for airline passengers, and GEE’s partnership with a leading e-book platform will provide value both to our customer Southwest, and to its passengers.”

Through GEE and Southwest Airlines, Kobo will offer more than 140 free e-books that passengers can access through their own Wi-Fi enabled devices, 85 percent of which are full-text prints and others as samples that readers can then buy after landing. Titles include books by best-selling authors from publishers like Penguin Random House, HarperCollins Publishers LLC, Simon & Schuster, Inc., Hachette Book Group, Macmillan Publishers, Kensington Publishing Corp., ECW Press, Open Road Media, Bauer Communications and others.

Michael Tamblyn, president and chief content officer, Rakuten Kobo says of the announcement: “Working with GEE allows us to take this passion for empowering readers to the skies, making a favorite in-flight pastime easier than ever.”

“Working with GEE allows us to take this passion for empowering readers to the skies, making a favorite in-flight pastime easier than ever.” – Michael Tamblyn, Kobo

Travel and reading have been inextricably linked for generations, the pleasure of one enhancing the joy of the other, with travel itself inspiring the creation of many popular books over the decades. Airport shops have tempted many an air traveler to stop in and find a cherished printed companion for the long flight ahead, but the rise of e-books and the popularity of e-readers and tablets help passengers travel light without leaving their favorite stories behind.

Electronic book distribution partnerships are also developing in the rail travel sector. Penguin and Random House announced a digital content platform to distribute eBooks on Amtrak’s Acela Express just this April.

But for the die-hard paperback readers out there, check out Hudson Bookseller’s top books of 2014.