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Kobo: Taking on the Giant?

Kobo is a Canadian company headquartered in Toronto, Ontario. The company is a subsidiary of a Japanese conglomerate, Rakuten, that is one of the world’s largest e-commerce retailers.

Kobo sells eBooks, audiobooks, e-Readers and tablet computers. The name, Kobo, is an anagram of book.

Their global reach is extensive. With one of the world’s largest eBook stores, their eReading service provides access to a catalogue of over six million eBooks, newspapers, and magazines.

Over twelve million readers use Kobo in 190 countries. With distribution partners on four continents, Kobo has access to 10,000 retail outlets and over 100 million consumers.

While they have been a force to be reckoned with in the international market, the dominance of Amazon in the US market has been a tough nut to crack.

Attempts to establish a base in the US have failed. A contract with Border Books for the distribution of reading devices and eBooks went by the wayside when Borders declared bankruptcy. Negotiations with independent bookstores stalled as the stores were not receptive to the financial terms.

That has changed. A recent announcement gave Kobo the needed boost to establish the company as a dominant presence in the US eBook market. Kobo has partnered with Walmart for the sale of eBooks and reading devices.

The partnership aligns two of the world’s largest e-commerce retailers. Both companies have a unique opportunity to challenge Amazon for market share.

The alliance provides Kobo immediate access to a market that doesn’t require building a network of retail outlets.

Walmart’s customers will have access to an established online database for the purchase of eBooks, audiobooks, and reading devices.

E-readers will also be sold in stores along with e-book cards. The card will carry a code that will allow a customer to download an eBook or audiobook.

For an author, the alliance represents another opportunity for market exposure and eBooks sales.

Several methods are available to an author to sell a book on Kobo. IngramSpark, Smashwords, and D2D’s distribution networks include Kobo.

A manuscript can also be loaded direct to Kobo’s website. This provides additional advantages as the author will have access to promotional opportunities not available through other distribution networks.

Whether the new partnership can break the lock Amazon has on the US market remains to be seen. It will, though, provide authors another outlet for the sale of a book.

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