Kobo has just launched a new unlimited subscription program for e-books. It is called Kobo Plus and the first two countries where it will be available is the Netherlands and Belgium. Readers can pay € 9,99 per month to have access to 40,000 titles and 16,000 of those are in the Dutch language.
This new e-book subscription platform is a byproduct of Bol and Kobo. Bol.com introduced digital reading in the Netherlands and Belgium five years ago, and since then has experienced amazing growth. In addition to the 1.2 million eReaders sold in the Netherlands, customers can also read their eBooks digitally via tablets and smartphones. The selection of eBooks has grown enormously over the past few years. One in seven non-fiction books sold in the Netherlands is digital.
Kobo Plus was developed in close collaboration with leading Dutch publishers. The subscription service operates on a fair-share model, with payouts funded by subscription revenues, which enables a self-sustaining service built for the long-term—encouraging publishers to offer a wide selection of books from all genres. Kobo Plus was designed with the booklover in mind, and provides book recommendations tailored to individual readers’ interests.
Users will be able to sign up for Kobo Plus directly on their e-readers and be able to filter out other categories to only display Kobo Plus books. They can then further filter by category, or language. On the homepage, customers will see a top-level Kobo Plus category carousel. You will also be able to purchase a subscription via the Kobo e-reading app or the main Kobo/Bol website.
I think it was only a matter of time before Kobo was forced to enter the e-book subscription program. The Netherlands and Belgium was an interesting choice, as the publishers association has been willing to take risks in recent years. The organization was a supporter of the unlimited model and gave their support to Elly’s Choice, Mobifo and Storytel. It is also interesting to note that Amazon Kindle Unlimited is not available in the Netherlands. It will be interesting to see what type of market share Kobo can attain and if they will expand into more digital friendly markets, such as Japan.