DBW - | |E-book sales in the U.S. are dominated by two companies that are thought to control about 90% of e-book market share: Amazon and Barnes & Noble. Kobo, an upstart from Canada, aims to change that.
In the past two-and-a-half years since the company’s launch, Kobo has built e-reading and tablet devices and launched its business in over a dozen countries. Aside from Apple, which sometimes seems to be playing a whole different game in pushing e-books through its iPad platform, Kobo may be the best hope for publishers wanting to see the e-book retail market grow to accommodate a third, significant player.
In a press release in early June, Kobo boasted triple-digit growth numbers for e-book downloads and e-reader and tablet purchases and claimed nine million registered users in 190 countries. Kobo also recently introduced Writing Life, its self-publishing service competitor to Amazon’s Kindle Direct Publishing and Barnes & Noble’s PubIt!. And, perhaps most importantly, Kobo now has deep-pocketed backers in Rakuten, a dominant online retailer in Japan akin to Amazon in the U.S. that acquired Kobo at the end of 2011 for $315 million.
Leading the way for Kobo is executive vice president of content, sales and merchandising Michael Tamblyn. Tamblyn has been a vocal and effective spokesperson for Kobo, attracting large crowds for the many talks he gives at book industry conferences. In some ways, it’s a role he’s been preparing for his whole career, which he has spent primarily as a bookseller and online bookselling pioneer.
Read the interview with Tamblyn at DBW