Kobo opens door to UK retailers

Kobo opens door to UK retailers

Canadian e-book retailer Kobo has said that it would be keen to partner a UK retailer in an effort to establish a presence in the market.

Michael Tamblyn, vice-president of content, sales and merchandising at Kobo [pictured],  also called for the simplification of rights deals in order to ease global e-book sales.

Speaking to The Bookseller at the Publishers Association's second annual digital seminar "Here and Now" yesterday [9th February], Tamblyn said: "The territories in which we have had the biggest success are where we have established a strong partnership with a local retailer, and we certainly look forward to opportunities here in the UK as well". Kobo has partnerships with Borders US and Indigo in Canada. He would not comment on whether any deals with UK retailers were under discussion.

During his speech at the seminar, Tamblyn stressed: "The thing we struggle with more than anything else is availability of rights. . . From a global retailing perspective, our ability to sell in a large number of places, making a small number of deals, is very advantageous. It is the single biggest thing we are looking at now—how can we assemble rights, and how quickly."

Tamblyn's comments echoed those of Pearson digital product and consumer technology director Juan Lopez-Valcarcel, who spoke on the first panel of the day tackling "E-book Sales: the Latest from the US Market". Considering the future of the digital marketplace, he anticipated: "Emphasis will move to rights transactions and what they will mean."

Panelists who spoke alongside Lopez-Valcarcel included Theresa Horner, digital products director at US book chain Barnes & Noble, and Peter Balis, digital content sales director at John Wiley & Sons.

Horner emphasised the importance of stores to its digital sales: "Our physical presence is a key part of our digital strategy." Responding to a question from Dan Franklin, digital editor at Random House, as to what advice she would have for Waterstone's and its digital offer, Horner said: "I recommend Waterstone's understands what their customers want and then go on accordingly . . . It's no small undertaking and it requires a certain level of commitment."

The second panel of the day "Looking Ahead: What Will Characterise the UK and International Markets in E-books?", featured Tamblyn alongside Media Entertainment Forum chair Andrew Bud, technology journalist Bobbie Johnson and BML m.d. Jo Henry. Bud stressed the increasing importance of smart phones as e-reading devices: "Your destiny is mobile. Smart phones are penetrating the market extremely fast, so the market to which you sell e-books is growing really fast."