Rakuten Kobo will take over the German Tolino e-book platform from Deutsche Telekom at the end of this month, pending approval from the German competition authorities.
Terms of the deal have not been disclosed but The Bookseller understands the Tolino e-reading brand will be retained after the switch from Telekom to Kobo.
The Tolino e-reading device was founded by leading German book chains Thalia, Hugendubel and Weltbild in 2013.
“The handover of the ecosystem to Kobo is a sign of the advanced market development; having found a perfect partner in Deutsche Telekom to establish the business, our next step with Kobo is to grow further and in particular to uphold and expand the international e-reading standards,” said Nina Hugendubel who owns and runs Hugendubel together with her brother Maximilian.
The Tolino alliance has been steadily expanding in Germany and throughout Europe. In 2014 it was joined by wholesaler Libri who brought with him 1,500 independent booksellers, in 2015 regional book chains Mayersche and Osiander began selling Tolino devices and e-books. Tolino is also available in Austria, Switzerland, Belgium, The Netherlands and Italy.
For Tolino booksellers and their customers it will be business-as-usual with all services remaining in place, Michael Tamblyn, c.e.o of Rakuten Kobo, said. He called the deal “the coming together of two strong pure-play e-book platforms” and added that “together with our partners from the German book trade, we intend to continue to enhance the Tolino ecosystem for its many dedicated customers.”
According to Thalia’s managing director Michael Busch, both Kobo and Tolino “share a commitment to an open and dedicated e-reading system.” All Tolino devices include an open ecosystem with integrated Tolino cloud, which does not restrict customers to one particular bookseller when purchasing e-books. The latest Tolino device, and the last developed by German Telekom, is the Tolino Vision 4 HD which was launched in November in time for the Christmas season.
Kobo which is owned by Japanese e-commerce company Rakuten, has accelerated its international activities in recently. In November it extended its partnership with French retailer Fnac to sell Kobo products in their Spanish stores as well. Kobo by Fnac offers a localised e-bookstore with Spanish, Catalaan, Basque and Galician language e-books. In May it took over Waterstones’ e-book business and in April a partnership with Turkey’s D&R bookshop chain was announced.