Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Kobo launches UK-specific e-book store

23.02.10 | Graeme Neill in The Bookseller

Digital company Kobo has launched a new e-books store in the UK, offering almost two million titles for download. The company uses the open ePub e-book format and the free Kobo application allows users to read books across different types of smartphones, like Blackberries, Palm Pre and Apple iPhones, tablets, netbooks, laptops and a-readers. The store is at

Among the publishers that have signed up to provide titles are Random House, Penguin, Bloomsbury, Simon & Schuster and Faber.

Mike Serbinis, c.e.o. of Kobo, said Hachette would provide e-books from the end of March, when it shifts to a new agency model of e-book pricing, which would allow Hachette to set e-book pricing with Kobo taking a commission. Only HarperCollins UK titles where the publisher holds world rights will be sold through the site, as it also moves towards an agency model.

Roughly 100 of the site's bestsellers will be priced £8.99 or less. Serbinis said: "We will maintain UK specific bestseller lists and intend to update those lists almost daily."

Richard Charkin, executive director of Bloomsbury, said the publisher was "working closely" with Kobo to ensure that its publishing programme was made "available as widely and as easily as possible".

Kobo launched in early 2009 as Shortcovers in the United States. The Kobo application has been downloaded by more than one million users across 200 countries. Today's launch of the site is the first time the company has developed a website for a specific region.

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