First Edition Design Publishing
Kobo is the major player in the ebook world that you’ve never heard of.
You’ve probably never heard of it because in the U.S. it is thought to have something like a 2% or 3% share in the growing ebook market. In Canada, however, where the company is based, it’s thought to be the market-share leader. It was acquired near the end of last year by Rakuten, a company considered the “Amazon of Japan,” and has started to build an ebook business there (for what it’s worth: a hard-to-crack market that isn’t promising for ebook publishers despite being one of the largest economies in the world with a very literate and technological population). In other countries, like the UK, South Africa and New Zealand, Kobo has a presence and is one of the only international players. Kobo is now in more than a dozen countries and is aggressively adding more.
This little upstart from Canada is trying to compete with the likes of Amazon, Google, Apple and Barnes & Noble.
Like those other companies, Kobo has its own set of devices that have been positively reviewed. Unlike Amazon, Google and Apple, it’s primarily focused on ebooks and e-reading. And, unlike Barnes & Noble, which is extremely U.S.-centric at this early stage of the game, it has international in its DNA. The company has been figuring out how to launch its business in other countries since early on when it expanded to the U.S. And Kobo has inked deals with the American Booksellers Association, a trade group for independent bookstores, and its equivalent in the UK to have indie bookshops sell its devices and ebooks.
Recently, Kobo became the first major international ebook player to launch in Brazil, which it did in Apple/Google/Amazon-like gala fashion with a celebrity-studded event at Brazil’s largest bookstore chain, Livraria Cultura. And it also recently came out that Kobo intends to support full EPUB 3 functionality by the third-quarter next year (this is very wonky, I know, but what it basically means is that it’s the first e-reading company to come out and say that it would support the latest accepted standard ebook file formats at some point — it makes the company somewhat cutting edge).
But wherever Kobo goes, Amazon and the others are already there or not far behind. Take Brazil. Hours after Kobo launched there, so did Amazon and Google.
The international ebook wars are going to be a dogfight — but underdog Kobo has a fighting chance.
Source: http://www.forbes.com By: Jeremy Greenfield, December 2012
About First Edition Design Publishing:
First Edition Design Publishing is the world’s largest eBook and POD (Print On Demand) book distributor. Ranked first in the industry, First Edition Design Publishing converts and formats manuscripts for every type of platform (e-reader). They submit Fiction, Non-Fiction, Academic and Children’s Books to Amazon, Apple, Barnes and Noble, Sony, Google, Kobo, Diesel, 3M, Ingram, Baker and Taylor, Nielsen, EBSCO, and over 100,000 additional on-line locations including retailers, libraries, schools, colleges and universities. The company’s POD division creates printed books and makes them available worldwide through their distribution network. First Edition Design Publishing is a licensed and approved Aggregator and holds licenses with Apple and Microsoft.