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Kobo has ‘no interest in fighting publishers’

30 April 2015

From The Bookseller:

Kobo has said it has “no interest in fighting publishers”, after signing its first publishing deal with journalist Kevin Donovan for a book about Canadian radio presenter Jian Gomeshi, who is currently awaiting trial for sexual assault.

The Canadian e-book retailer has signed world English language rights in print and digital to Jian Ghomeshi – Secret Life via Donovan’s agents Jesse Finkelstein and Samantha Haywood of Transatlantic Agency – in the first deal of its kind for the company.

While Kobo is publishing the title in digital on its platform, it is partnering with Canadian independent publisher ECW Press on a print edition of the book. The company also has press partners in the US and had “some preliminary discussions with publishers in the UK.”

Speaking about cutting its first professional publishing deal, Pieter Swinkels, Kobo vice president of publisher relations, told The Bookseller that the company saw itself as “enabler of publishing houses” and added “we support them, we have no interest in fighting them.” However, he also said that “publishing is a term that needs to be redefined” and while the company wasn’t looking to become a traditional publisher, it was hoping to “evolve the model” going forward.

He said: “Kobo is always looking to how we can improve, evolve and develop our platform for our readers. As we see how projects develop and publishing and bookselling models evolve, we are looking for our place to give our customers the support and experience. What we are looking for is not to become an traditional publisher, we are looking to evolve the model.”

Link to the rest at The Bookseller and thanks to John for the tip.

Kobo, Non-US

11 Comments to “Kobo has ‘no interest in fighting publishers’”

  1. This makes me think of what B&N could do with a modified self publishing model. If they offered a POD service that offered to put those self published works in stores for a fee or possibly as part of a publishing deal. They could pick and choose which books they want to offer this to in order to reduce risk, and limit the release to a regional distribution. They could also offer shipping or a pick up in store option for these books. That would be an interesting evolution of the model.

    • It’s a nice thought, but considering how shelf space for books is shrinking in all the B&N stores I’ve been in and heard about, in favor of gifts, toys, and novelty items, I think a smaller and smaller portion of B&N’s revenue comes from actually selling books. A look at their website tells you all you need to know: B&N is tied to the Big 5 like an anchor to a boat. They are all about the co-op. I’m pretty sure anything remotely seen as pandering to us indie plebs would be quickly squashed by five frowning faces.

      • I think a smaller and smaller portion of B&N’s revenue comes from actually selling books.

        Exactly, and if it’s not the growth part of your business, you don’t spend time and money on it. Corporate is busy looking for more gift items, not more books.

      • I know it’s almost guaranteed not to happen, but it would still be interesting. It baffles me that B&N is content to lose business to their competitors in a market where they should be dominant.

        Also whenever I go into B&N here I see several shelves that have 1 book set sideways to display the cover then space then another book set sideways. They could easily take one of those and make an indie section with dozens books. The no shelf space argument doesn’t make much sense to me when I see plenty of space everywhere when I go to a B&N. Although I would have to agree that if they did make space it would most likely be for more toys or other knick knacks.

  2. “Kobo has ‘no interest in fighting publishers’”

    Nope, no more than the other publishers fight each other. And while they whine a lot, none of the publishers are really fighting Amazon — or else they’d have pulled their books by now.

    Nope, no fighter to be seen, just another publisher elbowing their way onto the scene …

  3. Seems like a dangerous book to start with.

  4. I love how a corporation does A, then announces that it has no interest in doing A.

  5. It does seem quite odd that they would take this step with just one book. It could be a special case because of the subject matter – perhaps the book didn’t fly elsewhere and someone within the company thought it should, and was at a high enough level to pull some levers.

  6. ZirconiaPublishing

    So they’ll push the book of an actual rapist while banning all erotica and saying “If your dream is to write rape fantasies, Kobo isn’t for you.” Very progressive.

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