Kobo – reaches markets others don’t reach?

Kobo – reaches markets others don’t reach?

We’re seven months into selling eBooks through Kobo and we report back on whether or not new markets have opened up for us.

The first thing to note as an independent publisher (MX Publishing) is that Kobo take ePub. Good standard ePub, not some flavour or modified version. Tick. They also enable ftp of the ebook files in a relatively painless way and their metadata requirements aren’t too taxing. Tick. The biggest thing they have in their favour though is their reach. We’ve sold copies of our books in seven new countries since we’ve been working with them and in the social media supercharged world that is, by far, the biggest tick.

The question is, what is the secret?. Are they cheaper than Kindle, not that we can see. Is the software available on more devices, not really. Pieter Swinkels from Kobo highlights that first mover advantage is critical on a number of fronts:

“Kobo has launched its full ereading experience in Germany already and is launching localized stores and Apps in Spain, France, Italy and Netherlands later this year. eBooks are only beginning to develop in most continental markets now and with our advanced social media features, and our open, cross platform services Kobo adds a friendlier and more accessible ereading experience to the market. Unlike North America and the UK, all global ebook retailers are starting more or less at the same time in Europe, and the reader will get to decide all over again what experience he likes most. With my publishing background fresh in mind, I believe we can also offer publishers the kind of transparent services that will enable them to make the right strategic decisions and move forward with ebooks.”

Ah yes, social media functionality – good point Pieter. It has taken the other players an absolute age to launch ‘like’ and the like (that sounded funnier in my head) so Kobo has been able to leap frog there. Seriously Kindle, this thing Facebook, it is rather too important to ignore – yes, I know you have your own stuff going on, but guys, really? Have you seen the film the Social Network? I can lend you the DVD.

With the proliferation of Android eReaders and tablets, it will surely be the customer experience and user interface that will win the longer term battle. So ahead on the customer side, what about the publisher experience? Well, some homework for Kobo to do there as a later entrant some automation is due on the reporting side. Cameron Drew says that is well on the way:

“We are deep into building out a publisher facing web interface that will allow for daily sales reporting information with a range of custom search features including, but not limited to, category analysis, price point analysis, & marketing impact analysis for your titles alone or compared against an aggregate of data. You will be able to search by ISBN or a list of ISBNs, by pub date, life to date, year to date, month to date, & daily time intervals, by author, and by imprint. We will also be providing you with retail channel and territorial sales views. In short we will be providing you with a toolset that will allow for a very detailed and informed awareness of how your books are performing."

Now that’s pretty cool Cameron. Whilst Kindle already have basic reporting, and I am really loving the iTunes Connect reporting (just so Apple) it looks like Kobo are going to deliver a very nice interface which looks like it will be worth the wait.

Overall? Very good. I had my doubts when someone told me to get on the Kobo train when all were screaming unilateral Kindlisation (copyright 2011 on that new term please) but I am jolly glad we did and it looks like its about to get rather more interesting too.