For the next edition of the Alliance of Independent Authors International Insights hosted by Mark Williams of The New Publishing Standard, we’re sticking with global book distributors thisweek.Today focuses on Kobo.
Mark Williams of The New Publishing Standard
We continue our look at indie global retailer reach today with a deep dive into Kobo. This follows on from our previous examination of Apple Books, Google Play Books and Nook here, and before that Amazon here.
A whole post just for Kobo? The problem is, Kobo is regarded by many indies as an afterthought, because it is famously not a big player in the US. But as we’ll shortly see, Kobo is bigger in the US than we might think, and beyond the US borders Kobo is in fact a treasure trove for the internationalist indie willing to step outside the shadow of Amazon.
Joanna Penn this month revealed she had sold ebooks in 155 countries just on Kobo, and other indies have been sharing similar tales. As explored in the posts on Amazon, Apple, and Google Play, while these seem at first glance to be global they in fact have clearly defined limits, and between them reach less than half the world. By contrast there are only a handful of countries –North Korea for example – where Kobo is not accessible. But before we get too excited, let’s be clear on the realities of Kobo’s reach.
If we head over to the Kobo retail website, at the bottom of the page we’ll find a dropdown menu to change countries. That will take us to the “choose your country” page where we have the option to visit each localised store and see how our titles look as seen by readers in that country. This is simultaneously exciting and disappointing, giving us invaluable insights into Kobo’s global strengths but also its global weaknesses.
By visiting each country homepage we can see what the bestselling titles are in each country. We’ll also see what promotions Kobo is running for that particular country. And we can check out how our own books compare in price to similar titles. Do remember that the $ symbol will be USD, CAD, NZD, SGD, etc, depending on the country).
Right now, even though I’m in West Africa, I’m looking at Kobo Canada where the Kobo Plus subscription service is an option. It’s also an option in the Netherlands, where it is very popular, and is expected to launch in France soon.
Scrolling down I encounter the ebook deal of the day, a section highlighting books by black authors, the Canadian Scotiabank Giller Prize longlist, New & Hot in Kobo Plus, a 3 for CAD$15 promotion, a promo for the indie-only Kobo Writing Life audiobook sale, a section for Canadian authors, an ebooks under CAD$5 promotion, a Reese Witherspoon Book Club Pick, etc. No wonder Canadian readers love Kobo!
The US site has some promotions the same, but with an Oprah Book Club Pick, no Kobo Plus, a 3 for US$15 audiobook promotion, and a 200 ebooks under $2 promotion. The UK site is different again with, for example, a 99 for 99p promotion. Kobo Australia? Try 500 Under AUD$5. On Kobo India we see the prices in rupees of course, and sections like Latest In Sports and Popular in Indian Languages. Kobo South Africa? How about Bestsellers in Afrikaans?
Here’s the full list of Kobo international markets where some level of localisation is on offer.
North America: USA and Canada.
Africa and India (no, seriously, that’s a group!): India South Africa.
Latin America: Brazil and Mexico.
Asia Pacific: Australia, Hong Kong, Japan, Malaysia, New Zealand, Philippines, Singapore, Taiwan and Thailand.
Europe: Austria, Belgium, Cyprus, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Turkey, and UK.
The problem with this list is that as we dig deeper the localisation becomes all but non-existent. Kobo Thailand and Kobo Malaysia for example show prices in US dollars and no localised content and is essentially the same site we see if we visit Kobo from outside the 39 countries, using the “Other” option. This takes us to the Kobo International site, which is basically the Kobo US site with no offers and only with titles that have world rights enabled.
But, all importantly for us, our indie titles with world rights ticked will be available almost literally worldwide, making Kobo the most global by far of all the Big 5 retail players.
And that’s before we factor in the Kobo partner stores, which come as a bonus in addition to the 39 localised stores previously mentioned. Consumers can also buy Kobo ebooks and audiobooks through more than 24 partner stores in the following countries:
- Australia – Angus & Robertson, Collins, Booktopia
- Brazil – Livraria Cultura
- Canada- Chapters Indigo
- France – Fnac, Rakuten
- Italy – La Feltrinelli, Mondadori
- Japan – Rakuten
- Mexico – Gandhi, Librería Porrúa
Netherlands/Belgium – Bol
New Zealand – PaperPlus
Philippines – National Book Store
- Portugal – Fnac Portugal
- Spain – Fnac Spain, La Central
- Turkey – D&R, Idefix
- UK – WHSmith
- USA – American Booksellers Association (numerous independent bookseller websites), Rakuten, Walmart
For English-language authors there are regular promotion opportunities offered directly via Kobo Writing Life and also via some aggregators. You should see a promotions button in your Kobo Writing Life dashboard. If not, email KWL support. If you are not being offered promotion opportunities on Kobo via your preferred aggregator, email the aggregator and ask.
As noted earlier in this post, promotional features tend to be focused on a handful of countries – the US, UK, Canada and Australia and New Zealand. But if enough indies show interest the company might seriously think about expanding its promotions beyond the usual suspects. Pester power is a great tool for indies. Whether it’s a retailer or an aggregator, let them know you want more from them. Let them know you are serious about the global markets.
Finally for now, a reminder that Kobo Writing Life is available in Italian and French as well as English, and even if we ourselves go to Kobo via an aggregator, we should take time out to regularly visit Kobo Writing Life France and Kobo Writing Life Italy to see what Kobo is up to in other countries.
English-speaking indies will likely have no idea, for example, that in France KWL has a POD option for indies to get print books into one of France’s biggest retailers, Fnac.
Both KWL France and KWL Italy offer competitions and sponsor festivals in these countries, and for any of us who have invested in translations and are serious about these markets, following the local KWL websites is a must. And from there, why not try connect with the local KWL operatives to try get our translations more visibility?
Kobo is much more exciting than most indies realise, and if we are just using it as an afterthought in our going global strategy then we are missing out big time.
A reminder, in winding up here, that Kobo has wider reach for authors than Amazon, Apple and Google Play combined. Make the most of it.
Up-coming International Book Fairs and Festivals
(See this post on how indies can reap rewards from international book fairs).
Sep 18-27 (Sri Lanka) Colombo International Book Fair in-person
Sep 22-27 (Georgia) Tbilisi International Book Fair in-person
Sep 24-26 (Kenya) Nairobi International Book Fair online
Sep 26 (China – year round) Smart Beijing International Book Fair online
Sep 28-Oct 7 Indonesia International Book Fair online
Oct 1-4 Big Bad Wolf Sri Lanka online
Oct 1-4 (India) Delhi Book Fair
Oct 2-18 (Spain) Madrid Book Fair online
Oct 14-18 (Germany) Frankfurt Book Fair online
Oct 22-25 (Nigeria) Ake Arts & Book Festival online
Oct 30-31 (India) Delhi Book Fair online
Oct 30-Nov 9 (Algeria) Algiers International Book Fair online
Nov 04-14 (UAE) Sharjah International Book Fair in-person
Nov 24-30 (Philippines) Manila International Book Fair online
ALLi notes on stores mentioned in this post:
Kobo is available direct through Kobo Writing Life, and also via BookBaby, Draft2Digital, Ebook Partnership, PublishDrive, Smashwords, StreetLib, XinXii and others.
N.B. This list is not exhaustive but is accurate to the best of my knowledge. So here’s a call out to you, the reader, or perhaps our friends at the various aggregators. Please do submit additional info or corrections in comments so we can update the list as we go forward.
If you missed our introduction series to global book markets, you can read them here: Africa, India and China markets in Asia, the Middle East North Africa markets, the Ibero-America markets, the Asia-Pacific markets and the European markets, and also a special edition on the English-language markets.
Rakuten Kobo Inc., or simply Kobo, is a Canadian company that sells ebooks, audiobooks, ereaders and tablet computers. It is headquartered in Toronto, Ontario, and is a subsidiary of the Japanese ecommerce conglomerate Rakuten.Can you read Apple books on Kobo? ›
You can copy non-protected content from your iPhone, iPad, or Mac onto your Kobo Books app. If your file has Digital Rights Management (DRM) protection, or your file is from a third party, you won't be able to read it on your Kobo Books app with this method.Is Kobo Plus available in USA? ›
Kobo launched its Kobo Plus subscription tier in the U.S. today. The plan starts at $7.99 per month and gives users access to 1.3 million books (but not all titles) from Kobo's library.How do I change my country on my Kobo? ›
If we head over to the Kobo retail website, at the bottom of the page we'll find a dropdown menu to change countries. That will take us to the “choose your country” page where we have the option to visit each localised store and see how our titles look as seen by readers in that country.Is Kobo compatible with iPhone? ›
You can read your Kobo eBooks on iOS devices by downloading the Kobo app from the App Store. Automatically syncs your library across all your devices.On what device can I read Apple Books? ›
You can access the books and audiobooks in the Books app on other devices such as your iPad, iPod touch, and Mac. You can also sync your reading position, highlights, notes, library collections, and more.Does Kobo work internationally? ›
Owned by Tokyo-based Rakuten Group, Inc. and headquartered in Toronto, Rakuten Kobo's millions of worldwide users can read anytime, anywhere, and on any device.Why does Kobo not have all books? ›
Not all books found in the public library are available with OverDrive. The library book must also be sold on Kobo.com. If you find a book in your library that isn't sold by Kobo, you'll need to use Adobe Digital Editions to add the file onto your eReader.Do you lose your books if you cancel Kobo Plus? ›
Cancel your subscription: Click Cancel this subscription, then click Yes, cancel subscription. You'll no longer have access to your Kobo Plus books.Can you use Libby on Kobo? ›
You can browse and borrow books in Libby (on a supported device), then read on your Kobo. Compatible books will appear on your Kobo when you sync your Kobo over Wi-Fi. For this option to work correctly, make sure you're signed into OverDrive on your Kobo with the same library card you use in Libby.
Owned by Tokyo-based Rakuten and headquartered in Toronto, Kobo enables more than 30 million readers worldwide to read anytime, anywhere and on any device. With our award-winning eReaders and the free Kobo App for smartphones and tablets, Kobo is your portable reading world.Do you get to keep books from Kobo plus? ›
For $9.99 CAD (plus tax) a month, you can read as many titles from the Kobo Plus catalogue as you want. You can send and hold 15 books at a time on your device, but once you've “returned” one, you can take out another as long as you have an active subscription.Can I buy books from Amazon and read on Kobo? ›
Kobo eReaders support a number of different file formats but do not support AZW files, which is Kindle's format.Does Kobo use Amazon? ›
If you're using Kobo, you can either use Kobo's store ebooks, or ebooks purchased anywhere that is not kindle store (Kobo supports epub, the most widespread standard for ebooks besides kindle's closed format). see less Nope. Kobo uses its own store, so it won't take amazon purchases.Can you buy books directly from Kobo? ›
eBooks and audiobooks can be purchased from the Kobo Store at Kobo.com. eBooks can be read on your Kobo eReader, Kobo Books app (smartphone and tablet), and the Kobo Desktop app (Mac and PC). You can use the Kobo Books app to listen to audiobooks on your smartphone or tablet.Can you read Kobo without Wi Fi? ›
You can read up to 15 Kobo Plus books from your library in your Kobo Desktop app while offline. After your trial period for offline reading expires, you'll need to re-connect to Wi Fi and sync Kobo Desktop to continue reading.Can I read Kobo Books without app? ›
Kobo Web Reader lets you read Kobo books when signed in to your Kobo.com account. Your bookmarks are saved and synced, which means you can continue reading on a Kobo eReader or reading app at a later date without losing your spot. You can use Kobo Web Reader on your computer or smartphone.Can I use my iPad as a Kobo? ›
The Kobo Books app for iOS lets you read eBooks and listen to audiobooks on your iOS devices.Does Apple make a book reader? ›
In the Books app , you can view the books you're currently reading, want to read, book collections, and more. Reading Now: Tap to access the books and audiobooks you're currently reading. Scroll down to see books and audiobooks you've added to your Want To Read collection and books you've sampled.Can my iPhone read my books to me? ›
You can still chose to have your eBook read out aloud using Apple's advanced screen reader technology, VoiceOver. The key difference between the read-aloud feature and VoiceOver is that the read-aloud feature must be built into the eBook, whereas VoiceOver can be turned on for any accessible eBook read using iBooks.
Amazon books can be read on most devices via the Kindle app, but Apple books can only be read on Apple devices, no other device currently has an iBooks app.What are the disadvantages of Kobo? ›
Disadvantages: The rendering engine the Kobo uses to present text on the screen is a bit touchy, requiring very particular CSS to get the text to format properly. This is not a problem for readers so much as it is for publishers and independent authors making their own epub files.What devices can you read Kobo Books on? ›
- your Kobo eReader.
- the Kobo Books app for your smartphone or tablet.
- the Kobo Desktop app for your PC or Mac.
Although Rakuten Kobo is a membership-based platform, you can purchase books without a subscription. However, it's much more affordable to get books from Kobo as a subscriber because you redeem one credit for one title. Otherwise, you need to pay the retail price for both ebooks and Kobo audiobooks.Is Kobo shutting down? ›
Kobo plans on disabling the ability the buy audiobooks and ebooks in their Android app, starting September 2021. Rakuten Kobo announced on their Japanese website that Google is changing their billing system and this is forcing them to close down their bookstore.Can you put any book on a Kobo? ›
You can copy non-protected ePub files from your Android phone or tablet to your Kobo Library. Note: PDF files cannot be imported. If your file has Digital Rights Management (DRM) protection, or your file is from a third party, you won't be able to read it on your Kobo Books app with this method.Who has more books Kindle or Kobo? ›
Who has the better book options—Kindle or Kobo? The general consensus is that Amazon has a bigger eBook store than Kobo does, but that Kobo eReaders support a bigger range of eBook and document formats (though that doesn't include Amazon's own bespoke e-book format, of course).What will happen to OverDrive on Kobo? ›
OverDrive will continue to work with Kobo eReaders after the OverDrive app is removed from the app store on February 23, 2022. The OverDrive app will be replaced with the Libby app to manage your content. In the weeks before the OverDrive app is discontinued, you'll see a final notice reminding you to upgrade to Libby.How long should a Kobo reader last? ›
Before using your Kobo eReader for the first time, you should charge it for at least one hour. A fully charged Kobo eReader battery can last up to two months depending on how frequently you use your eReader.Does Kobo have something like Kindle Unlimited? ›
Kobo Takes On Kindle Unlimited With New All-You-Can-Read eBook Subscription. Kobo Plus starts at $8 a month and offers 1.3 million books and 100,000 audio books.
The company says that winding down OverDrive will allow it to focus its resources fully on Libby.Will Libby replace OverDrive on Kobo? ›
On May 1, 2023, the OverDrive app was discontinued. We encourage you to make the switch to Libby, our newer reading app. Libby is made by the same people, with the same goal of connecting you to your library and to your favorite books, audiobooks, and magazines.What is the difference between OverDrive and Libby? ›
Libby is a new app released by OverDrive. It has the same collection of titles as the OverDrive app - it's just a different way to access the same digital library collection. Libby is a fast and attractive digital browsing experience.Do authors make money from Kobo? ›
Kobo offers a standard Independent Publisher Program contract through Kobo Writing Life. You can receive royalty payments from Kobo via EFT (Electronic Fund Transfer) directly in to your bank account. Authors are paid 45 days after the end of each monthly period provided they have met a minimum threshold of $50 USD.What can I do with my old Kobo? ›
Depending on your Province or State, Kobo offers free mail-in recycling program including free shipping and shipping container. To find out more information about our process in your area, please contact us by clicking on Contact Kobo Customer Care on help.kobo.com.Is Kobo coming out with a new eReader? ›
Toronto, ON – April 5, 2023 – Rakuten Kobo announces Kobo Elipsa 2E, a freshly upgraded digital reading and writing experience designed for readers who want to engage with their eBooks and expand on their ideas like never before.How many books can you put on a Kobo? ›
You can read a maximum of 15 Kobo Plus books while offline over your trial period on a Kobo eReader or in the Kobo App. Once you've opened 15 books, or reached the end of the trial period of offline reading, you'll need to reconnect to Wi Fi and sync your eReader or app.How many books can you store on a Kobo? ›
Full of possibilities—and up to 24,000 books.How much does a Kobo membership cost? ›
|Country||Price per month (after applicable taxes)|
|United States||Kobo Plus Read: $7.99 Kobo Plus Listen: $7.99 Kobo Plus Read + Listen: $9.99|
|United Kingdom||Kobo Plus Read: €8.99 Kobo Plus Listen: €8.99 Kobo Plus Read + Listen: €11.99|
Amazon books can be read on most devices via the Kindle app, but Apple books can only be read on Apple devices, no other device currently has an iBooks app.
eBooks can be read on your Kobo eReader, Kobo Books app (smartphone and tablet), and the Kobo Desktop app (Mac and PC). Audiobooks can be played on the Kobo Books app for your smartphone or tablet.How do I read Apple books on my eReader? ›
- Open the Books app.
- Tap or click Book Store.
- Browse for a book, or search for a specific one. When you find a book that you're interested in, tap or click it.
- To buy a book, tap or click the price.
- The book appears in your Library in the Books app.
- Books: EPUB, EPUB2, EPUB3 (Note: Kobo Original and Kobo Wi Fi does not support EPUB3), PDF, FlePub and MOBI.
- Documents: PDF.
- Images: JPEG, GIF, PNG, BMP, and TIFF.
- Text: TXT, HTML, and RTF.
- Comic Books: CBZ and CBR.
Pages for Mac
Open your document in Pages. Choose File > Export To, then choose EPUB.
With the Kindle app on your iOS devices, you can easily import content from your phone or tablet. Add personal documents, web content, and other files to your library to read them on your Kindle or in the Kindle app with features like reading progress, notes, highlights, bookmarks, and more.Can Kindle open Apple Books? ›
Unfortunately, it's not possible to transfer these digital books. Both Apple and Amazon prefer to lock their customers into their 'environment' via the music, books and videos you download. So Apple-branded iBooks aren't in a format that can be read on a Kindle - they can only be read on an Apple device.Can I add my own eBooks to Kobo? ›
You can copy non-protected ePub files from your Android phone or tablet to your Kobo Library. Note: PDF files cannot be imported. If your file has Digital Rights Management (DRM) protection, or your file is from a third party, you won't be able to read it on your Kobo Books app with this method.Can I use Kobo without a subscription? ›
Although Rakuten Kobo is a membership-based platform, you can purchase books without a subscription. However, it's much more affordable to get books from Kobo as a subscriber because you redeem one credit for one title. Otherwise, you need to pay the retail price for both ebooks and Kobo audiobooks.Why wont Apple Books let me read? ›
If you haven't already, a restart of your device is a great place to begin with troubleshooting: Restart your iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch. If the issue persists after restarting, you might also try downloading the book from a different connection type.Why is Kindle better than iPad? ›
Budget Friendly: Kindle is inexpensive in comparison to iPad. Long Battery Life: Kindle can run for weeks once fully charged. Eye Protection: Kindle does not emit light from its screen as it is based on e-ink technology. Hence, your eyes won't strain even when you read ebooks for hours.
You must be signed in to the Book Store or Audiobook Store with the same Apple ID you used to buy or download the books. In the Books app on your Mac, click All (or another collection) in the sidebar. Double-click a book or audiobook that has an iCloud status icon below it to download and open it.