Publishers have praised Kobo’s determination to win market share in the UK and other territories, hailing the decision to launch a luxury e-reader at LBF as a “clever move”.
The Kobo Aura has a 30% larger HD e-ink screen, with special contours for comfortable reading, and is priced at £139.99. The launch preludes a big marketing push, including TV advertising, with Kobo’s promotion budget for 2013 three times that of last year.
Kerr MacRae, executive director at Simon & Schuster, said the company was “impressed” with Kobo’s “enthusiasm and determination to grow their share and take on the market properly.” He added: “Kobo has grown sales with us and they perform very well on specific titles. We welcome them in the market—they seem determined to make a go of it and that is very encouraging.”
Michael Bhaskar, digital publishing director at Profile, agreed that Kobo was showing “consistent” UK growth. He said: “They fight hard for market share. They follow their own path, and launching the Aura was a clever move. I certainly feel there is space for a reassuringly expensive e-reader out there.”
Accent Press publisher Hazel Cushion said Amazon had a 70% share of Accent’s digital sales, but that was dropping as other players assert themselves in the market, including Kobo and iTunes. She said: “Our sales saw a 40% growth in December through Kobo and that has continued at the beginning of this year.”
Amazon is the dominant company in the digital reading market, with some estimates suggesting the company has an 85% share in the UK.
Kobo is unlikely to use dramatic discounting, according to chief content officer Michael Tamblyn. He told The Bookseller: “[We] chose not to participate in the 20p promotion, and did not see any impact in terms of ability to attract new customers or content itself. As soon as you stop running that promotion, you lose the people who are interested in buying books for 20p. We would rather build up a service ourselves, which will attract customers we will keep.”