The news today that eCommerce giant Rakuten is to acquire Kobo Books for $315m lifts Kobo into the big leagues alongside Amazon and Barnes and Noble.
Rakuten are a big Japanese player in eCommerce with a 2010 turnover of over $4bn and they have grown by strategic aquisition in Europe. They have over 10,000 staff worldwide and the inclusion of Kobo in their portfolio should be viewed as excting for the eBook market as it sets up further potential interest from other eCommerce players - both as investors and retailers of eBooks.
In the company's official press release Michael Tamblyn (Executive Vice President, Content, Sales and Merchandising) says:
"Rakuten’s position as one of the world’s top 3 e-commerce companies will allow us to be an even stronger competitor in the markets where we currently operate, with access to new resources so that we can continue to push the boundaries of eReading."
Rakuten have several of Amazon's key competitors in their portfolio already having aquired Priceminister in France and Buy.com in the USA in 2010. This acquisition should do Kobo a world of good in the US and French markets and give them some muscle in other markets too.
Tamblyn wants to assure everyone that Kobo will still remain Kobo:
"Kobo plans to keep its head office in Toronto, operating under the Kobo brand. Our teams in New York, London, Paris, Hamburg, Barcelona and Melbourne will keep going strong. We will continue to function as a stand-alone operation. Our CEO and senior management team will remain unchanged".
Reaction from an independent publisher like us (MX Publishing), with 3/4 of our books with Kobo already is a very positive one. Putting Kobo in with a heavyweight like Rakuten is a very welcome development.