Archive for kobo
Comixology is the largest digital comics distribution platform on iOS, Android and Windows 8. The company has been going strong since 2007 and their technology powers the reading apps from Marvel, DC, Archie, and has every single comic and graphic novel of the Walking Dead. Last week, Amazon announced they acquired Comixology. This did not really surprise anyone who keeps tabs on the digital comic industry, but did Apple, B&N and Kobo miss the boat?
When it comes to selling comic books online, Amazon, Apple, B&N, Kobo, Google and many other players all sell them. Surprisingly most only sell graphic novels, instead of single issue comics. Graphic novels usually comprise of 6 issues of a series and make it easier than purchasing each one separately. This appeals to more casual readers, but hardcore readers often choose Comixology to stay on top of all of the new releases every Wednesday. The only notable exception is DC making a new agreement with Google to carry new single issue comics on the Google Books Store.
Why did Barnes & Noble, iBooks or Kobo not pursue this deal? This could have been game changers for those companies and it could have appealed to the people who have downloaded over 215 million comics from Comixology. Industry experts have speculated that the B&N executive team is not forward thinking enough to actually go through with it and they have their own turmoil in the executive ranks to think about. Kobo is exclusively focused on international expansion and Apple is only concerned with making the 30% royalty on in-app purchases and selling stuff on iTunes.
If there was a single company to benefit the most from Comixology, it was Amazon. The Seattle based company had developed comic technology called Panel View option for fixed layout illustrated ebooks. This attempt was clearly trying to clone the far superior Guided View from Comixology. Amazon also does not allow high resolution images in KF8 FXL files, which is their file format to emulate EPUB3, but also appealing to more visual and interactive titles. Considering Amazon is putting a priority on high resolution displays on the Kindle Fire HDX line of tablets, the deal with Comixology deal solves all of these issues.
I really feel like Barnes and Noble and Kobo really missed a golden oportonity to purchase Comixology. Both of them would have been better caretakers of the comic company and could have benefited from something no one else had. The deep pockets of Kobo owned Rakuten could have financed the deal and could have added the last piece of the puzzle to their trifecta of eBooks, Kids titles and magazines. Barnes and Noble could have really had a great content distribution system that is a proven revenue earner to offset the losses on Nook hardware and eBooks.
A recent program for UK libraries to lend ebooks has been considered not only a success for institutions and patrons, but also for publishers given the number of click through sales that resulted from borrows. The report, given at a panel at the London Book Fair this week, was from the Society of Chief Librarians (SCL) president Janene Cox.
The program, launched on March 3rd, 2014, in four areas of the country, gave visitors to the physical libraries access to content that wasn’t available elsewhere, including new releases. While visitors still had to come into their libraries to access the list of titles, they were gaining this access to content that wasn’t readily available for device lending elsewhere.
The results of the pilot have already been enlightening and positive, and interestingly have also been in line with patron behavior in various pilots and studies conducted by different companies in different countries. Sourcebooks and OverDrive teamed up last year to study the effects of unlimited checkouts and free simultaneous access to one title in particular, coupled with publisher branding of the book. Several years ago, Kobo released the results from its online marketplace that looked at user behavior when ebooks were available for free or at nearly no cost, which is the correlating cost for library patrons.
In almost every aspect, these studies have shown that publishers benefit when their books are readily available for borrowing. The click through rate in library lending is fairly high, with many of the patrons purchasing titles before even finishing the book. As in the Sourcebooks experiment, sales of that author’s other titles–not related in a series to the title that was made available–also increased, as did his social media following as readers sought him out online.
eBook lending has been a struggle for the industry, with different publishers experimenting with different lending parameters and limitations in an effort to protect the interests of their companies and their authors. Libraries have now been shown to be a source of revenue for publishers, not a source of contention.
Michael Tamblyn has been the Chief Content Officer of Kobo forever. He is primarily responsible for publisher relationships, sales, industry relations and has spearheaded various initiatives such as the Magazine and Kids Store. Today, Michael has been appointed President and Chief Content Officer of Kobo.
Michael have now have an expanded role to play in Kobo’s overall business strategy. As President, he will work closely with CEO Taka Aiki to continue expanding on the company’s eReading service around the world, while driving the company’s success through sustainable and long-term profitable growth. Basically Michael is now second in command at Kobo and will have a strong voice in the overall business strategy.
Michael Tamblyn was one of the oldest executives at Kobo. He helped launch the Indigo pet-project Shortcovers in 2009 and helped broker the investment money needed to splinter into Kobo. He has been the voice of Kobo at all major publishing events, such as Book Expo America, IDPF, Digital Minds and many other conferences all over the world.
Congratulations to Michael for his elevated role at Kobo. He is one of the most approachable guys in the industry and honestly is enamoured with reading in all forms. He is also a most dapper dresser and always styles and profiles.
Sony has sent out the first batch of emails that instruct customers on transferring their library of purchased content to Kobo. The process is relatively simple, you have to register for a Kobo account and click on the Getting Started Link. It will scan your library and begin uploading your books to the Kobo account. The only books that will not transfer are books that Kobo does not sell in their bookstore.
Users are reporting that the success rate of transferring their existing library of content from Sony to Kobo, is around 85%. The bulk of titles that are not transferring are self-published, magazines, newspapers, comics, manga and kids books.
The Sony Reader Store is now officially closed and users will not be able to buy anything further directly on their e-reader anymore. Sony has promised that during the next few weeks they will push out a firmware update to the Sony PRS-T1, Sony PRS-T2 and Sony PRS-T3 that will replace the Sony Store with the Kobo one. Users will soon be able to buy books directly from Kobo and read them on the Sony Reader.
Users are implored not to fret if they have not received the transforship emails yet. Sony obviously can not send out millions of emails at once, and it will take about a week for everyone to receive them.
Kobo has inked a deal with Nickelodeon Publishing to bring popular properties into a digital format. More than 250 top eBook titles from iconic children’s series including Bubble Guppies, Blue’s Clues, The Backyardigans, Dora the Explorer, SpongeBob SquarePants, and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles are now available via Kobo.
Kobo launched their Kids store late last year. It currently has over 100,000 titles primary aimed at young-adults and children. They have the latest bestselling series, Read Along books, and colourful picture-books. Kobo offers parents the ability to set up dedicated accounts for their kids so that they can safely explore the the Kobo eBookstore. Kobo gives parents the ability to set spending allowances for their kids, pre-select eBooks, and adjust search settings to keep their kids reading safely.I like the fact parents can set up reading goals to keep everyone engaged and to offer a reward for reading.
“Kids’ books are an integral and important part of the Kobo catalogue, and we’re excited to be growing the category by adding top-rated Nickelodeon titles,” said Michael Tamblyn, President and Chief Content Officer, Kobo. “Nickelodeon has a strong history of igniting the imaginations of children and creating characters that become like favourite friends and we are happy to be a part of their cross-platform storytelling world, bringing their books to more children globally.”
“Given the global popularity of their reading devices, we are excited to launch Nickelodeon eBooks on Kobo,” said Paula Allen, Senior Vice President of Global Publishing, Nickelodeon. “At Nickelodeon, our books extend the storytelling and educational curriculum featured in our award-winning programming. We’re delighted that kids and parents can enjoy reading and learning together on Kobo devices.”
Kobo has never had a stellar customer service record when it comes to support for their digital bookstore or their line of tablets and e-readers. This is starting to change as the Canadian based company is putting a heavy priority on developing new technologies and changing the way they go about solving customer issues.
International expansion has been the primary focus at Kobo for the last few years. Their template is making agreements with the largest bookstores in the country to get the hardware in the hands of serious readers and strike publishing deals. Kobo customers statistically buy four books a month from the online bookstore.
The Kobo expansion into international markets has subsided and they have recognized that customer service often played second fiddle. Marc Hollenberg is the current VP of Customer Care at Kobo and has been on the job for six months. His focus is aligning the various hardware, software and book departments into a unified customer service department. “It’s much more cost effective to keep customers than it is to acquire new ones.”
One of the new initiatives Kobo has developed is a platform called Virtual Que. This allows people to fill out an online form, such as what device they have, where they purchased it from, nature of the problem and their Kobo account. They can talk to a live agent or instead of waiting on hold, get a call back. This saves time, because the agents have all of the customer data and don’t have to spend the first few minutes of the call confirming a million details.
Technical problems with tablets or e-readers used to raise customers dander. Often, the first point of contact was the Tier 1 representative, who was able to solve most common problems. If the situation was not something that could be fixed, Tier 2 agents would call the customer back. We have heard many stories about calls never coming or customers being given the runaround, when it came to returns or warranties. Marc is trying to change this by “eliminating the tier agent system; all agents are now equipped with the same tools, which has significantly reduced the need for another agent to intervene.”
Marc mentioned that “Kobo has included customer experience as a key strategic pillar, and all departments are aligned with this priority.”
I think Kobo is in the position where they have expanded into almost every major market with a localized bookstore and the ones they haven’t can still easily buy books. With more than four million titles in their library and millions of users all over the world, retaining those customers is a huge priority. This has been challenging for the Customer Care department because they have to deal with a myriad of new and existing languages such as Spanish, Portuguese, French, Dutch, German, Japanese and a ton of others.
During the year you can expect the customer service program to get more refined. If you have had an issue in the last year, drop a comment below! Kobo will be dropping by to address specific customer issues and listen to feature requests.
Three weeks ago, the Commissioner of Competition in Canada mandated to Kobo that it had 40 days to re-negotiate contracts with Simon & Schuster, Macmillan, HarperCollins, and Hachette. The Government is basically forcing Kobo to abandon the agency model of eBook pricing. Kobo is currently engaged in a legal battle and has been granted a Stay while their case is being made.
Michael Osborne is a lawyer in Toronto, Canada and has been analyzing the case. He mentioned that “Kobo is arguing that its contracts with the four publishers, Hachette Book Group, HarperCollins, Macmillan, and Simon & Schuster, will be fundamentally altered or terminated because of the settlement, and that it will lose money. Kobo claims that a similar settlement in the US led it to close a US office and refocus on other markets. Kobo claims that it also led another eBook company, Sony, to exit the market, and caused Barnes & Nobles’ “NOOK” eBook division to become unprofitable.”
Many people do not know that Kobo originated from an Indigo pet project called Shortcovers. When Kobo first launched its eBook store and start to manufacture e-readers, Indigo was a principle investor, kicking in almost 100 million dollars. When Kobo was sold to Japenese e-commence giant Rakuten, Indigo pocked 300 million from their stake in the company. The two companies have been close ever since and the largest Canadian bookstore has just filed a leave to intervene in the case. CEO Heather Reisman says, in an affidavit, that the settlement threatens to give Amazon a monopoly or near monopoly over the sale of eBooks in Canada.
The Competition Bureau, in its response, contends that Kobo is simply trying to protect the guaranteed 30% margin it has under its existing contracts, and keep prices from falling.
So what exactly is the deal with this entire court room saga? The Canadian government wants to force Kobo to iron out new contracts with Hachette, Macmillan, Harper Collins and others. If they can’t do it in 40 days the existing ones will be void and Kobo will be forced to remove thousands of books from their bookstore. Without a full catalog of eBooks from all of the Canadian publishers “Kobo would be an ineffective competitor. Customers choose eBooks and e-Readers based on the breadth of their catalogs”. If Kobo lost any of these “they would cease to be a credible player in the market place.” Conversely, if Kobo accepts the amendments and shifts it operations to Agency-Lite, it will suffer unrecoverable losses.
It will be interesting to see the way this all plays out. We might be in for a drawn out legal battle that could decide the fate of the Canadian eBook market.
Kobo has consistently been rated one of the worst companies to deal with for customer service issues. The Canadian based company realizes they are doing a poor job and are secretly developing a new program called “Click 2 Call.”
The Leaked document says “In our ongoing effort to improve our Customer Experience, we are pleased to announce the introduction of the next phase of our customer contact strategy: Click 2 Call. Kobo Customer Care will introduce this new approach starting with our customers in English markets, then expanding to include all our supported languages.” The aim is to launch this feature on March 20, however, as it is currently being tweaked and tested, the date could change.
What will this new program accomplish? Reducing call times: The agent will have all the customer’s information on hand and will not need to spend valuable time collecting it. There will also be Reduced hold times: The agent will be able to investigate and troubleshoot the issue prior to calling the customer. All of these new features collectively will make it easier on the customer to not always have to give their data out, each time they speak to an agent.
The new customer service portal is in testing HERE . Kobo has said “This Customer Care page has been live for the past 8 months. The new feature will further build on Kobo’s Customer Care offerings and will be added to the existing touch point you are mentioning – it is not new, but we’ll continue to add functionalities to provide the best possible service. We want to ensure that people have access to the assistance they need in the most efficient way possible, keeping them reading and enjoying their favourite stories.
The portal asks you for your Kobo account details and what version of the Kobo e-Reader or app you are using. Since Kobo devices are sold all over the world, it even prompts you to choose from a drop down menu where you purchased it from. There are different support options for you to correspond with agents. You can talk to them on the telephone, chat with them online, or engage in email support.
I think this new Kobo customer service solution is a step in the right direction. There has been a thousand horror stories of getting lost in the existing infrastructure. It is basically a merry-go-round of getting bounced to different tiers of agents, who often never return the calls.
Kobo has just inked a new deal with Sesame Workshop to make Sesame Street eBook titles available through the Kobo Kids Bookstore. Through the agreement, more than 50 Sesame Street titles including The Monster at the End of This Book, Count to 10, and How To Be A Grouch are available worldwide starting today at the Kids’ Store.
“As it is one of the most popular reading devices around the world, we are excited to launch Sesame Street eBooks on Kobo,” said Jennifer A. Perry, Vice President of Worldwide Publishing, Sesame Workshop. “We aim to reach children everywhere and our Sesame Street collection gives children and parents opportunities to read together, engage with favorite Sesame Street friends and learn wherever they may go with their Kobo device.”
Kobo’s Kids Store, offering nearly 100,000 titles, makes it easier to find the next great book for children and young adult Readers, with the latest bestselling series, Read Along books, and colourful picture-books.
Kobo offers parents the ability to set up dedicated accounts for their kids so that they can safely explore the amazing books within the Kobo eBookstore. Kobo gives parents the ability to set spending allowances for their kids, pre-select eBooks, and adjust search settings to keep their kids reading safely. Parents can also set reading goals for kids and track their progress with engaging reading stats – all features designed to make eReading an educational, fun, and friendly experience. The dedicated Kids’ Store is currently available in North America.
Library Journal has released the results of its 2014 survey, which tracks materials spending in public libraries across the country. The libraries are categorized according to patron size and circulation size, as well as budget size. In what comes as a tremendous surprise given the frightening state of libraries’ crisis-level budgets, spending actually increased microscopically, which is still far better than a decrease.
The spending on print books, movies/DVDs, and CDs or other downloadable music was interesting, despite the easy availability of movies and music from other sources. While music circulation and spending has dropped, DVDs remain the single best investment with the circulation far outweighing the financial cost.
The unfortunate reduction in print book purchasing could go either way; while ebook spending did increase for most libraries regardless of size, overall materials spending decreased in library systems who had suffered branch closing, reductions in staff, and reductions in operating hours.
In even better news, every category of library size reported an overall increase in circulation for a total 2% increase. In a finding that speaks to the vital role that libraries play, it was those libraries that serve rural communities that reported the highest book circulation numbers, largely due to the lack of bookstores in these communities and the unavailability of “one day delivery lockers” or Sunday delivery from online retailers.
Interestingly, libraries that reported a decrease in total book circulation actually pointed to ebooks as the culprit. With the ease of purchase and download and the more affordable price of digital over print, it appears as though consumers are quick to press the “buy it now” button instead of waiting for the book to become available through the library, either in print or in digital. This phenomenon has been shared for years from companies like Kobo and OverDrive, who’ve worked to convince publishers that library lending and ebooks are good for their business.
The full report from Library Journal is available HERE.
Canadian based Kobo was one of the first e-reading companies to have an app on the Windows 8 App Store. They actually developed it about a year before the official launch of the OS and beta tested it extensively. A few months ago Kobo pulled the app down from the app store, because of a lackluster UI and uninspiring features. Today, Kobo has reissued the app and its now available to download.
The new Kobo Windows 8 app will allow you to buy eBooks directly through the app. It also allows you to pin books you have purchased directly to your home screen, to allow easy access to your eBooks. Once you start reading a book, your exact page is synced across all of your devices.
“We are excited to give our Readers access to their Kobo eBooks on the Microsoft Windows ecosystem,” said Kobo’s Sameer Hasan. “Just like Kobo, Microsoft understands the importance of providing users with greater mobility and new ways to enjoy their favourite content. The Kobo for Windows app is designed to make Kobo content come alive on Windows devices.”
For the next few weeks to celebrate the apps launch, users can get a free copy of “Robert Ludlum’s The Janson Command” by Paul Garrison. It might be worth it to download it just for the free Book!
Finally, Kobo has announced they are developing a standalone app for Windows Phones. Likely it will be for the most current OS and not be backwards compatible with say Mango. There are no details on functionality or when it will come out, but likely soon.
Welcome to another Good e-Reader Exclusive Contest! Today Good e-Reader and Kobo are partnering to give away three brand new Kobo Mini e-Readers! This is one of our biggest contests yet and is open to everyone.
The Kobo Mini has a pint size five inch touchscreen display running an older version of e-ink Vizplex. It has a resolution of 800×600 pixels and gives you the traditional 16 levels of grayscale. This is very small device that fits in any of your pockets and was designed to be extremely lightweight and portable. Underneath the hood dwells a 800 MHZ processor, which is the same one the original Kobo Touch had employed. There are 2 GB of internal storage for your ebooks, newspapers, and PDF files.
To enter the contest you need to LIKE the video and subscribe to our YouTube channel. We will be picking three winners at random in two weeks and announce them in the description of the video. Good Luck to everyone.