New Zealand is the guest nation at this year’s Frankfurt Book Fair, and Kobo, one of the emerging leaders in digital self-publishing and e-reader services, chose Frankfurt to announce a number of new developments, including its new partnership with Booksellers New Zealand and The Paper Plus Group. But Kobo made two other significant announcements as well. It has just bought French digital software company Aquafadas in an effort to further develop its digital platform for illustrated e-books and magazines and enhanced titles in rich media. Nice, and another sign that vertical integration is the way forward in the publishing world. The third piece of news about Kobo’s self-publishing platform, Kobo Writing Life, was included under the press release for the Aquafadas acquisition. It may prove to be the most significant development for Kobo of all three.
I’ve attached the press release at the bottom of this piece and taken the liberity of reversing the order of news from the original communication when it reached TIPM. Handing, or emailing someone three press releases in one document file might lead to interested parties not reading far beyond the ‘Kobo Acquires Aquafadas’ headline. Of course, the real news for readers of TIPM will be Kobo’s move into the heart and soul of the European market with its self-publishing platform.
The Kobo publishing engine and tools have always been accessable for authors and publishers in non-English speaking countries in Europe, but until now, never in their native languages. That’s the game-changer, and it has the potential to be another real challenge for many owners and operators of self-publishing services in France, Germany, Spain and Italy, already contending with the roll-out of Amazon’s Kindle Direct Publishing
. Dutch publishing service providers like Pumbo
and Mijn Bestseller have had something of a recent charmed existence without the presence of KDP, but the arrival of Kobo and a planned Amazon.nl still under wraps – all that may be about to change. Publishing providers on the continent have had something of a one-language, fixed territory approach to their businesses, and while it may work for US and UK publishing providers trading on a far larger geographical base, it may spell the end for localized providers in Europe.
Just like the wider publishing industry, publishing service providers in mainland Europe need to move beyond the POD
(print on demand) mindset of the past ten years, fully develop their digital publishing services, embrace translation as part of their service array, and move from just marketing into single-language territories if they are to survive.
Sure, it is hard for small localized publishing service providers to complete against the global reach of KDP and Kobo Writing Life, but when companies like this pitch a tent in your back garden – you can’t simply ignore them. You have to find what added service value your company can deliver to authors and readers. Kobo, like Amazon’s KDP, will bring as much opportunity as challenge for small European-based publishing service providers.
The trick, as the old adage goes, may be to keep your friends close and your enemies closer.
KOBO WRITING LIFE OFFERS NEW FEATURES AND LANGUAGES
As part of Kobo’s ongoing commitment to content and self-publishing, Kobo’s self-publishing platform Kobo Writing Life, will now be available in German, French, Italian, Portuguese and Dutch, in addition to English – with several new languages planned over the coming months. Since its launch in July, Kobo Writing Life has doubled month over month, with authors publishing their work on the portal from an incredible 82 countries across the world, in 17 languages. With the acquisition of Aquafadas, Kobo will leverage features and tools from the Aquafadas Publishing platform to further enhance Kobo Writing Life.
Today, Kobo offers about 10% higher royalties on most sales than competitive platforms, between September and November 2012, Kobo is offering a further 10% royalties in a number of categories to authors who have signed up for the service. Kobo Writing Life’s simple and open pricing structure includes eight currency options ($, £, ¥, €, HK$, AUS$, CAN$, US$), which can be adjusted territory-by-territory, as well as the ability to set a book price to “FREE” at any time without restrictive exclusive agreements.
Kobo and Aquafadas will be at the Frankfurt Bookfair, please visit the Kobo Booth in Hall 8.0 at Stand G919 for more information on Kobo’s recent acquisition of Aquafadas and growth plans for self publishing and the Kobo Writing Life platform – or visit the Aquafadas Booth in Hall 8.0 Stand L973.
Kobo, Inc., a global powerhouse in eReading with over 10 million users in 190 countries, and Aquafadas a leading digital publishing technology company, today announced they have entered into a definitive agreement under which Kobo intends to acquire Aquafadas. The global eReading market is exploding and with the acquisition of the Aquafadas Digital Publishing System, Kobo will be able to bring a selection of rich media – magazines, academic, comics, kid’s books and more to Kobo customers everywhere. Kobo and Aquafadas share a common vision of delivering rich content to consumers around the world and providing tools that enable publishers to easily produce this content.
“This is a very exciting day for both Kobo and Aquafadas,” commented Kobo CEO Michael Serbinis. “Digital Reading is rapidly evolving now to new rich media categories. This transaction will strengthen both Kobo’s and Aquafadas position in our current markets and allow us to accelerate the growth of rich media with the Aquafadas Digital Publishing system.”
Aquafadas is the industry leader in rich media and offers the most advanced Digital Publishing System that covers all aspects of digital publishing from content design to cross-platforms distribution and analytics. It combines the most advanced content design tools with a versatile library of ready-to-use apps, ePub3 export, and a Web reader. Aquafadas enables publishers across industries to create richly designed books, children’s books, graphic novels, magazines, newspapers, marketing communications, and corporate publishing, all without writing a single line of code. Aquafadas will add a new distribution channel to its universal solution: publishers will have access to massive distribution through the Kobo platform.
“Kobo’s arrival is amazing news,” add Aquafadas CEO Claudia Zimmer. “Thanks to this acquisition, publishers who use Aquafadas Publishing System will benefit from an easy, scalable, solution that will provide access to a new distribution channel in addition to other channels: Kobo’s platform and its 10 million registered users. We will benefit significantly from this partnership and amp up development to deliver more innovative tools. By working together to further enhance the Kobo product line-up the creation of rich-media content, Kobo and Aquafadas will take digital reading to a new level.”
About Kobo Inc.
Kobo Inc. is one of the world’s fastest-growing eReading services offering over 3-million eBooks, magazines and newspapers. Believing that consumers should have the freedom to read any book on any device, Kobo has built an open-standards platform to provide consumers with a choice when reading. Inspired by a “Read Freely” philosophy and a passion for innovation, Kobo has expanded to nearly 190 countries, where millions of consumers have access to localized eBook catalogues and award-winning eReaders, like the Kobo Touch. With top-ranked eReading applications for Apple, BlackBerry, Android, and Windows products, Kobo allows consumers to make eReading social through Facebook Timeline and Reading Life, an industry-first social experience that lets users earn awards for time spent reading and encourage others to join in. Headquartered in Toronto and owned by Tokyo-based Rakuten, Kobo eReaders can be found in major retail chains across the globe.
VP Marketing Communications, Kobo
About Aquafadas Aquafadas solutions allow and facilitate the dissemination of digital content on all major new platforms: smartphones, tablets and web. The creation tools offered by Aquafadas meet the specific industry needs of publishers. Amongst our clients are Egmont International, Sanoma, Lagardere, Mondadori, Reader’s Digest, Bayard, Standard & Poors, EDF, or The Tribune. Comics publishers use AveComics, the digital comics platform created by Aquafadas, to distribute comics on the new devices.
The business world uses the Aquafadas tools to enable migration of digital content such as marketing, technical documentation, commercial or financial. Aquafadas user-friendly creative software for Flash®, HTML5, photo and video editing, is also used by graphic design professionals and consumers.