Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Kobo Lands $53 Million in Funding to Fuel Global Expansion

Smashwords retail partner Kobo today announced they closed a US $53 million funding round.

Smashwords distributes nearly 30,000 titles to Kobo. Over the last 12 months, we've seen our sales there surge as Kobo added new customers and expanded their retail footprint around the globe.

Several Smashwords-supplied titles are selling well at Kobo. Looking at Kobo's Top 50 Ebooks listing for today, as of this moment John Locke's Saving Rachel is the #7 best-seller; Stephanie McAfee's Diary of a Mad Fat Girl is #16; John Locke's Wish List is #30; and Ruth Ann Nordin continues a nearly 12-month dominance of the Kobo Top 50 clocking in at #36 with An Inconvenience Marriage. Congrats to John, Stephanie and Ruth Ann!

Some highlights from today's press release over at the Kobo web site:
  • Their Kobo bookstore app is bundled in the new Research in Motion BlackBerry PlayBook tablet, which went on sale this week in the US and Canada
  • In addition to Research in Motion's new Playbook tablet, Kobo also powers the ebook stores for tablets made by Samsung and HTC
  • Over 3.2 million users at Kobo: with over 1 million users added in the last 90 days (I assume users = paid customers + free downloaders + people who have downloaded their apps)
  • Kobo's multi-platform e-reading apps run on the iPad, iPhone, Blackberry, Android, Palm WebOS, Windows and MacOS devices
Last week Kobo announced the impending launch of new localized ebook stores in Spain, Germany, France, Italy and the Netherlands.

Congrats to our friends at Kobo! Their continued progress means greater opportunities for Smashwords authors and publishers to reach readers.

Unrelated to this announcement, over the next few weeks we're going to work with Kobo to revamp our ebook distribution systems to take advantage of some of their new ebook ingestion systems. The objective, as it is with all our retail partners, is to help our books achieve faster and more accurate listings. Over the last 12 months, we've completed similar revamps with Apple, Barnes & Noble and Sony.


Kyle W. Bell said...

Congrats Kobo! Hopefully the new funding will lead to further growth. My sales have significantly increased on their site over the past several months.

Kyle W. Bell

Anonymous said...

This is great! Well done Kobo. A move in the right direction.

My sales have been quiet until last month where I saw a little bump in my Kobo sales. I'm looking forward to the next update to see how they've been doing lately.

My titles by my pseudonym, Jonas Saul, are probably the reason for the bump as my sales at Apple and Amazon have shot up to ten times what they were two months ago.

Thanks Mark

Wilson James said...

It would appear we're seeing upward trends all over the place. Investors are wisely seeing a good opportunity in Kobo, and authors are seeing a good opportunity in Smashwords as a way to get listed on Kobo and other great online retailers.

I'm increasingly happy with my results on Kobo and the other sites. I have to admit to being pleasantly surprised as to which of my books is on top. My short novel Playing the Baseball Card is leading the way in numbers among my six young adult fiction titles at Sony, B&N, and Kobo.

Thanks, again, Mark, to you and your great team.


Shayne Parkinson said...

Congratulations, Kobo! Huge congratulations, too, to John, Stephanie and Ruth Ann.

rdlecoeur said...

Well done Kobo, this is good news for everyone, especially lovers of the Epub format.
Re: Blackberry
Think of all those bored traveling biz execs stuck in hotel rooms with nothing better to do than download a nice ebook to read from Kobo on their new Blackberry playbooks. yay!
I don't suppose they can allocate a few measly thousand bucks from this new funding to set up Kobo boards where we can promote our wares?

Ben Campbell Novels said...

Excellence demands attention, and Kobo is an attention magnet.

LK Watts said...

Congratulations, that's fantastic news!
I've just recently published my first book with Smashwords, so I hope the onward growth continues! Well done.

David Gaughran said...

This is great news.

Europe has remained a low priority for too long for Amazon. Outside of the UK and Germany, you can't even officially buy the Kindle. You have to order from the US, it comes shipped with a US plug, and it doesn't even have a Spanish option, despite there being 400 million native speakers worldwide.

The book business is a global business - estimated at $80bn - and its good to see Kobo recognise that and continue their international push.


DonOmite said...

Sort of related since it deals with distribution. Any plans on upgrading Smashwords to handle the higher volume of books? When I started here I was never above #200 in line to be converted. Now I'm lucky to be below #3000. This means about 4 to 5 days before it gets out there. Then the premium review is another week or 2. Just saying it may be time to invest in this site.

Kathy said...

Wish that the ebook sites were alittle more clear about what ereaders can be used. When you think the site is in CAHOOTs with your regular ebook site that you buy from, its natural to assume that your ereader is acceptable too. Boy! was I wrong. Now I have 3 books that I can only read on the computer and not on my Lookbook by Kobo... RATS!!!!!

w. f. owen said...

That is indeed great news and further testament to the growth of ebooks as the next phase of publishing! Congrats to all who made it happen!

W. F. Owen
Haiku & Science Fiction Writer