Kobo

Kobo’s Mark Lefebvre on common digital publishing pitfalls

13 May 2016

From Chris Meadows via TeleRead:

At BookExpo America today, I took the chance to attend a panel given by Mark Lefebvre, Director of Kobo Writing Life, on common digital publishing pitfalls. Lefebvre addressed a number of common mistakes digital publishers make, and how Kobo could help avoid them.

The first such mistake had to do with cover design. Given that e-book cover art is typically viewed in much smaller thumbnail form, fine print isn’t going to work well. he showed examples of covers that had been optimized for mobile, with the author’s name in big letters at the top and the title slightly smaller below. This makes them clearly visible even when the image is thumbnailed.

. . . .

The second pitfall had to do with pricing. Lefebvre explained that many publishers price their e-books too high, in order to try to protect the windowing of their print prices. Hence, their e-books end up at the same price as or higher than the print version. This doesn’t play well with consumers, who tend to feel that much of the value of the book resides in the dead tree matter, though in actuality much more of it is in the content itself.

On the other hand, many independent publishers make the opposite mistake, and often undervalue their work—pricing it at 99 cents or otherwise too low. This tends to turn off many Kobo customers who’ve gotten burned by bargain-basement books that haven’t been very good—though pricing down to 99 cents on daily deals can be an exception.

One interesting point Lefebvre made regarding price is that, since Kobo is global, it sells in Canada, Australia, New Zealand, the UK, and elsewhere, in addition to the US. And customers in some of those regions—such as Australia and New Zealand—are used to paying more for e-books, so publishers can afford to price their e-books higher there.

. . . .

Another interesting note to come out of the talk was that Kobo’s arranged a partnership with fellow Rakuten-owned company Overdrive, to allow self-published authors to opt their Kobo books into Overdrive’s library e-book service. It plans to turn that option on within a few months.

Link to the rest at TeleRead

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‘End of the beginning for e-books’ says Tamblyn

4 March 2016

From The Bookseller:

Kobo c.e.o Michael Tamblyn says the industry is reaching the “end of the beginning for e-books”.

Speaking at the IPG Spring Conference yesterday (2nd March) Tamblyn highlighted the “steady state” of digital sales in the publishing industry, with e-book sales now “cruising nicely” between 20% and 30% of all book sales, he said. This has meant Kobo has been able to “take a bit of a breath” and consider its position as a digital retailer that “thinks about the reader and what they want,” Tamblyn added.

The new Kobo chief said the industry needed to let go of “preconceptions about what the reader is”, explaining that the demographic of people who use Kobo products are mainly “silver foxes”, with over 50% of Kobo’s readers over 55-year-old and 30% retired.

“People 55 and over are leading a digital charge for the first time”, he said. “That kind of understanding of what that customer looks like changes everything for us.”

Tamblyn said he was not worried about the demographic featuring mainly older people as “it seems more like there are times when people have more time in their life to read, and time when they don’t. It’s a conveyor belt that brings new recruits all the time. People make more time for reading as they get older.”

Link to the rest at The Bookseller

The 30% Rule of Selling eBooks ~ Go Exclusive? Or Sell Everywhere?

9 February 2016

From author Donna Fasano:

Several years ago, an Amazon rep told me that selling my books via Amazon Select—going exclusive to Amazon—would greatly benefit me as an author. When I voiced some reluctance to remove my books from the reach of Nook, Kobo, iBook, and Google Book readers, he went on to explain that, as long as my earnings from other venues was at or below 30% of my total earnings, then the extra sales I would see at Amazon Select would make up for the loss.

The terms and conditions of Select have changed with the invention of Kindle Unlimited, so I don’t even know if the 30% rule still applies. I currently have 4 of my 18 self-published books in the Amazon Select Program for a second 3-month stint which will end in two weeks. The way I figure it, it’s good to try new things. However, the Kindle Edition Normalized Pages (KENP) Read have shown pretty dismal results/earnings. Before removing the 4 books from Select, I needed more sales information from the various venues where my books are available.

. . . .

The information clearly shows that, during the past 4 months, I’ve only had 1 month where Amazon Kindle sales were greater than 70%.

With the advent of Kobo’s fabulous new Promotions Tab on my Kobo Author Dashboard, I believe my Kobo sales and readership will grow. I’m still learning how the promotional campaigns work and which ones fit best for my books, but it seems that I have gotten it right 2 months out of 4. I imagine I will only become better at choosing and marketing the correct campaigns. I can tell you that during the first week of February, Kobo and Amazon are neck and neck with Kobo at 40.5% and Amazon at 43%. Also, I get a thrill when I see Kobo readers in Nigeria, Qatar, South Africa, Slovakia, Columbia, and dozens of other countries are reading my books.

Link to the rest at Donna Fasano and thanks to Al for the tip.

Here’s a link to Donna Fasano’s books. If you like an author’s post, you can show your appreciation by checking out their books.

Kobo Officially Launches the Touch 2.0 eReader

3 September 2015

From The Digital Reader:

The Kobo Touch 2.0 updates the four-year-old Kobo Touch ereader with more storage, longer battery life, a faster CPU, and a lower price.

It has a 1GHz CPU, 4GB storage, and Wifi, but no audio or card slot. Its 6″ screen sports a resolution of 800 x 600 and an IR touchscreen, but there is no frontlight.

In short, this ereader was built to be a competitor to the (basic) Kindle, and it has a price to match. The Kobo Touch 2.0 will be available on 9 September in the US and Canada, and will retail for $89.99.

The device will also be sold internationally.

Link to the rest at The Digital Reader

50% off from Kobo

30 August 2015

From Kobo:

Attention all Kobo Writing Life authors!

We’re proud to announce that we’ll be supporting a special end-of-summer clearance sale on all titles published through KWL—a 50% discount for your readers, on us. This sale won’t cost you anything and will not be taken out of your royalties.

This special sale will start Friday, August 28th and ends on Monday, August 31st and will be valid in Canada, United States, Australia, New Zealand, United Kingdom and South Africa.

Customers will be able to redeem 50% off of any title published by KWL using the promo code SALE50 an unlimited number of times starting this Friday—so please, let your readers and fans know about this incredible opportunity to stack up on eBooks while they can!

Link to the rest at Kobo and thanks to Timothy for the tip.

Kobo, ABA Renew Partnership For Another Year Even Though Indie Booksellers aren’t Selling Many eBooks

28 July 2015

From The Digital Reader:

If you were surprised in late May when Kobo revived its defunct affiliate partnership with US indie booksellers then this next piece of news will knock your socks off.

Late last month the American Bookseller Association announced that its contract with Kobo was being extended for another year. Originally signed in 2012, that contract was set to last three years and included an automatic one year renewal clause, which has now gone into effect.

. . . .

According to the ABA’s Indiebound website, around 500 booksellers in the US (out of 1,700 or so ABA members) take part in the Kobo affiliate deal. It’s not known just how many ebooks they’re selling, but if a recent report in the Denver Post is any sign then this deal is not having much of an impact on the ebook market:

Eight years after Amazon released the first Kindle, surviving independent bookstores are now selling e-books — and finding that no one really wants the ones they’re offering.

“It’s not even a drop in the bucket really,” said Arsen Kashkashian, inventory manager at Boulder Bookstore. “Our sales are up for the year and they’re coming from physical books.”

Boulder Bookstore sells e-books through Kobo and was previously part of a Google eBook deal. But Kashkashian said neither deal was “any good.” He estimates the store has about 10 customers who regularly purchase e-books, with a few other occasional downloads.

“I don’t have exact numbers but let’s say we make $10 off each hardback copy of (Harper Lee’s “Go Set a Watchman”). E-books make 50 cents,” he said.

Link to the rest at The Digital Reader and thanks to Michael for the tip.

Kobo Glo HD e-reader gives Kindle Voyage a run for its money

5 May 2015

From Mashable:

There are plenty of reasons to like Kobo, but the most compelling may be the simple fact that the company isn’t Amazon.

As chief competitors like Barnes & Noble and Sony have faded or altogether disappeared from the market, the plucky Canadian company (granted, one currently owned by a giant Japanese retailer) has made it a mission, year in and year out, to offer the best e-reader money can buy.

. . . .

Along the way, Kobo’s competitive streak has gone a ways toward pushing the whole industry forward, experimenting with screen size, upping the game on front-lit displays, introducing the concept of a truly high-end devoted e-reader and even going waterproof.

For its part, the Glo HD isn’t an attempt to push the envelope as much as it is a play to mainstream some of the premium specs it introduced with pricier models.

. . . .

Kobo has never been one to shy away from exploiting a perceived hole in the market. The company has seven models listed as currently available on its site, and as such, the Glo HD slots somewhere between Amazon’s Voyage and Paperwhite, bringing a high-res display, small footprint, slick design, and one important secret weapon: a $130 price tag that undercuts Amazon’s top-tier e-reader by $60 (or $80, if you factor in Special Offers ads).

Link to the rest at Mashable

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.

Mixed Results for Bricks-and-Mortar Stores with Digital Content

26 January 2015

From Publishers Weekly:

For many bricks-and-mortar bookstores, 2014 was a banner year, helped by the overall improvement in the sale of print books. Some independents, such as BookPeople in Austin, Tex., and Titcomb’s Bookshop in East Sandwich, Mass., reported that they had their best year ever. Barnes & Noble’s physical stores reversed a downward trend and posted some gains for the nine-week holiday season, which ended January 3, compared to the similar period the previous year. But when it comes to digital, the results have been mixed. Holiday sales of digital content dropped 25% at B&N, and device and accessory sales fell even further, down 68%.

. . . .

Indies first dipped their toes in the digital waters in 2010 through an arrangement with Google. After that deal fell apart, the American Booksellers Association announced in August 2012 a three-year contract with Kobo and rolled out an e-book and device program to booksellers in time for the 2012 holiday season.

. . . .

Booksellers who want to offer their customers print and e-book options appreciate ABA’s support in the digital market, even though e-book sales have been far from vibrant. Hudson Group, which operates more than 65 bookstores at airports and train stations and sells books through several hundred newsstands, saw its e-book sales through IndieCommerce decline by 20% in 2014. But it has no plans to stop selling them. “It doesn’t cost us anything additional [to sell e-books],” said Sara Hinckley, v-p of book buying and promotions at Hudson. “And every sale helps. We do hope that the future will bring us better opportunities to become part of the e-book market.”

E-book sales were also down by double digits at Green Apple Books in San Francisco. “E-books are minimally profitable,” said co-owner Pete Mulvihill, whose digital content sales declined 18% in 2014. He’s scaling back his effort to sell digital content and devices, as the Kobo partnership, in his opinion, “loses steam.” But Mulvihill has no plans to give up e-books entirely. He views e-books, which represent less than 1% of store sales, as a service for customers who want to e-read and still support the bookstore.

. . . .

 Enthusiasm for devices has cooled at Village Books in Bellingham, Wash., despite 500 active e-book customers, according to events coordinator and eTeam leader Sam Kaas. “We continue to carry Kobo devices for the time being, although as return terms and support from Kobo have changed, we are reevaluating that,” he said. Last month the store sold 11 devices. On the other hand, e-book sales have remained steady. “E-books are profitable in terms of sales,” said Kaas, “especially since they do not take up space on our shelves or carry the risk of making us order and return multiple copies. However, if we need to provide instruction or service to customers, an hourly staffer’s time quickly becomes more expensive than the commission we make.”

Link to the rest at Publishers Weekly and thanks to Timothy for the tip.

Why NOT self-publish exclusively through Amazon?

20 September 2014

From TeleRead:

Essentially, Amazon provides a number of added benefits and incentives to writers who publish exclusively via Amazon either temporarily or continually: free giveaway days, or inclusion in e-book subscription services such as the Kindle Owners Lending Library or Kindle Unlimited that pay a fee per checkout, for example. Amazon has allowed some top-selling authors, including Howey, to try the service out temporarily withoutgoing exclusive to see how the numbers stack up.

After a couple of months, Howey reports that the readership gains he’s seen from Kindle Unlimited “more than covered the readership I gain from the iBookstore, Nook, and Kobo combined.” He might be earning slightly less money, he writes, but gets considerably more fans out of it.

. . . .

I’d love to see some decent competitors to Amazon spring up, but at the moment, nobody really seems to be even trying to compete. Apple locks its books into one specific platform—and what’s more, it even requires writers to use that platform only if they want to upload their books directly rather than via an intermediary!

. . . .

Sony’s thrown in the towel. Barnes & Noble’s just taken a major step backward in consumer-friendliness. Kobo…well, the most I can say about Kobo is that I haven’t heard about them doing anything overtly stupid lately, but I haven’t heard about them doing anything especially smart lately either.

. . . .

The only answer I can come up with is to try to keep limits on Amazon’s power by supporting its competition. But is that really Howey’s job? Why should he be obligated to support a bunch of lackluster companies who don’t even seem to be interested in trying to compete themselves?

Link to the rest at TeleRead

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