There are many audiobook and ebook companies that are disabling in-app purchases on Android. This is primarily due to a new Google Policy that just went into effect for anyone who is making over one million dollars per year. They have upped the commission rate to 30% for every single audiobook or ebook sold through the app and everyone now has use the new Google Play Billing API. Audible, Barnes and Noble will no longer support purchases over the next few days and are simply telling their customers to go and buy stuff on their website. What is happening with Kobo? They are the global number two player in selling e-readers, books and audiobooks?
Kobo told Good e-Reader in an exclusive statement “In the near future, and in compliance with new Google Play Android app policies, Rakuten Kobo will be moving over to the Google Play processing platform for in-app purchases of eBooks and, where applicable, audiobooks. When that happens, customers may notice a few temporary changes to the reading experience as we fully integrate with the Google Play payment platform; we will work quickly to update and re-introduce reading app features such as the ability to purchase a Kobo Plus subscription and pre-orders.” The company has made it clear, there will be a few hiccups with switching over to a completely new billing system, but they will continue to support in-app purchases.
This is a savvy move for Kobo, since many of their competitors are no longer going to be selling content. This will allow them to get millions of new customers who will be loyal to the brand and maybe even buy a new e-reader from them. Kobo not only sells books, manga, comics, audiobooks and other media, but they also have their Kobo Plus subscription platform, where you pay a monthly fee and get access to hundreds of thousands of additional content.
Will Amazon Kindle follow suit? They have two main Android apps. One is for the Amazon Fire tablets, which does not use the Google Play Framework, instead use the Amazon API. Anyone who has a Fire Tablet or Fire TV will continue to be able to make in-app transactions, but what about the Amazon Kindle app that is listed on the Google Play Store? Will they too disable in-app transactions, instead of paying 30% on anything sold? If history has taught us anything, when Apple changed their policies to have all in-app transactions done through their own billing program and then charge 30% on everything sold, Amazon disabled all transactions and turned it into a dedicated reading app.
Michael Kozlowski has been writing about audiobooks and e-readers for the past twelve years. His articles have been picked up by major and local news sources and websites such as the CBC, CNET, Engadget, Huffington Post and the New York Times. He Lives in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada.