Romance, Historical, Contemporary, Paranormal, Young Adult, Book reviews, industry news, and commentary from a reader's point of view

Wednesday Midday Links: Kobo Acquired by Japanese eCommerce Client

From the Press Release:

TOKYO and TORONTO, November 8/9, 2011 — Rakuten, Inc. (JASDAQ: 4755) and Kobo Inc. today announced that they have entered into a definitive agreement under which Rakuten intends to acquire 100% of total issued and outstanding shares of Kobo for US$315 million in cash.

Kobo was founded by and spun out of Indigo, the largest book, gift and specialty toy retailer in Canada, in December, 2009. Since that time, Kobo has become a fierce competitor in the eBook marketplace, with a family of innovative eReaders, a wide range of eReading apps, one of the largest eBook catalogues, an innovative social platform and retail partners around the globe.

The acquisition marks a major step forward for Rakuten, one of the world’s top 3 e-commerce companies by revenue, as it continues to expand its unique B2B2C borderless e-commerce business globally, by adding an ecosystem to provide downloadable media products to consumers, starting with eBooks.

Hiroshi Mikitani, Chairman and CEO of Rakuten, commented on the acquisition, “We are very excited about this next step. Kobo provides one of the world’s most communal eBook reading experiences with its innovative integration of social media, such as Facebook and Twitter; while Rakuten offers Kobo unparalleled opportunities to extend its reach through some of the world’s largest regional e-commerce companies, including in the US, Tradoria in Germany, Rakuten Brazil, Rakuten Taiwan, Lekutian in China, TARAD in Thailand, and Rakuten Belanja Online in Indonesia, and of course, Rakuten Ichiba in Japan.”

“From a business and cultural perspective this is a perfect match,” commented Kobo CEO Michael Serbinis. “We share a common vision of creating a content experience that is both global and social. Rakuten is already one of the world’s largest e-commerce platforms, while Kobo is the most social eBook service on the market and one of the world’s largest eBook stores with over 2.5 million titles. This transaction will greatly strengthen our position in our current markets and allow us to diversify quickly into other countries and e-commerce categories.”

Upon closing the acquisition, Kobo will continue to maintain its headquarters, management team and employees based in Toronto, Ontario.

The global eBook market is one of the fastest growing segments of the consumer technology industry, with a compound annual growth rate of 36% through 2015*. The global content market size is also expected to grow dramatically to reach approximately US$10.6 billion per year by 2015 (estimates exclude China).

Rakuten owns and also runs Barnes&Noble’s Affiliate program through LinkShare. (BN also has an affiliate program through Google Affiliates which has earned the blog about $30 in the year that I have been using it which probably suggests I am using it wrong.)  Rakuten is about the size of Amazon and thus brings more money to the table than Indigo and Kobo could have.  Let’s hope that the acquisition by Rakuten finally improves the customer service.  Brian emailed me that his Kobo Vox turned up but mine, well, mine is still lost in the ether. I’ve tried to cancel my order and received no response to that either.


A reader at a James Bond forum noticed some similarities between a debut novel called Assassin of Secrets by Q.R. Markham.  This was blurbed by two well known authors and received starred reviews from PW and Kirkus.  On the Bond message board, a AMC Hornet started it off:

Not anyone who knows their Gardner:

Brewster was a big man, tall, broad, bearded, with an expansive personality—a big bearded bastard,” Brewster’s secretary and mistress, the petite, blond Tabitha Peters, was often heard to remark. Not the usual kind of person who made it to a responsible position in the clandestine services. They tended to prefer what were commonly called “invisible men”—ordinary, gray people who could vanish into a crowd like illusionists.

Compare that to the first paragraph of Chapter 5 from Nobody Lives For Ever.

Just a coincidence?

If you want a copy of this book you’d better order one quickly, before it’s pulled from distribution by IFP.

This started off an investigation which revealed that Markham had plagiarised pages and pages of content.  Ed Champion lays out numerous instances of copying up to page 27 but also notes that Markham has plagiarised several other pieces.  The US and UK publisher have both pulled the book.   There is no plagiarist safe on the internet, folks.  Some reader, some where will notice.


L A Times has a piece about book trailers indicating that some publishers like St. Martin’s Press are paying upwards near $50,000 to produce a book trailer for its top tier authors.  One of my followers on Twitter noted that this might be smart if it was placed at the beginning of a Breaking Dawn movie, but instead the trailers languish on YouTube.

Other publishers like Harlequin and Walker Books are experimenting with enhanced covers. While the following cover is cool, it is flashbased unlike Harlequin’s which is a gif.  The other problem is that the Daylight Saving cover widget doesn’t lead you anywhere.


Mobile Flash has even been killed off by Adobe due to the fact, probably, that hundred million iThing devices won’t run mobile flash.


BISG says that readers love their ebooks and more and more once they go e, they don’t want to read print.  From the study:

    • Power Buyers are spending more. More than 46% of those who say they acquire e-books at least weekly (considered “Power Buyers” in this survey) report that they have increased their dollars spent for books in all formats, compared with 30.4% of all survey respondents. This statistic is important because Power Buyers have proven to be a bellwether of overall consumer behavior by three to six months.

    • Amazon momentum continues. continues to be the preferred source for e-book acquisition (holding steady at 70%) and e-book information (44%). Barnes & Noble comes in second at 26%, with Apple in third. One to watch: libraries, which are on the upswing as a preferred source for e-book acquisition.

    • Satisfaction with e-reading devices is high. Seventy-five percent (75%) of respondents reported they are satisfied with their e-reading device, including more than 38% of respondents who reported being “very satisfied.” Less than 5% said they felt their e-reading device was not a good value for the money.

  • Many barriers to e-book reading are falling. Survey results indicate that concerns about e-book availability are diminishing. And although the cost of e-reading devices remains a reported concern, the single most popular answer to the question of what hinders respondents from reading more e-books was “nothing” at 33% (up from 17.6% a year ago).
If you have a few million dollars just burning a hole in your wallet and a yen to live in Ireland, this fantasy home might be just the thing for you.
Harlech House
According to an article in Irish Times:
IF SIX-YEAR OLD boys were in the market to buy properties, their home of choice would be Harlech House, a fantasy build that is part Tim Burton, part Game of Thrones with much of the Brothers Grimm canon thrown in for good measure.

Jane Litte is the founder of Dear Author, a lawyer, and a lover of pencil skirts. She self publishes NA and contemporaries (and publishes with Berkley and Montlake) and spends her downtime reading romances and writing about them. Her TBR pile is much larger than the one shown in the picture and not as pretty. You can reach Jane by email at jane @ dearauthor dot com


  1. Maili
    Nov 09, 2011 @ 12:31:46

    L A Times has a piece about book trailers indicating that some publishers like St. Martin’s Press are paying upwards near $50,000 to produce a book trailer for its top tier authors. One of my followers on Twitter noted that this might be smart if it was placed at the beginning of a Breaking Dawn movie, but instead the trailers languish on YouTube.

    I have heard it’s worth every penny. How, I don’t know. The viewing statistics at YouTube are apparently better than cinema statistics for film trailers. I mean, a film trailer has far better exposure at YouTube than at a typical cinema.

    Plus, it’s apparently cheaper and more effective to have it screened at YouTube and similar than a cinema chain (advertising space for a 30-second trailer cost up to something like $3K per screening, maybe?).

    No idea if any of this is true, though, as I know almost zero about display advertising.

  2. library addict
    Nov 09, 2011 @ 12:58:20

    Although I’ve enjoyed a few book trailers, most are just silly and none have made me want to actually purchase a book.

    So long as Kobo continues to offer regular ePub the sale doesn’t bother me. Hopefully as Jane said their customer service will improve. I also hope they continue with their occasional coupons.

    The animated covers may look cool, but what purpose do they really serve? I’d rather publishers concentrate on getting the contents of the book correctly formatted.

  3. Lisa J
    Nov 09, 2011 @ 13:13:47

    The animated covers really don’t do much for me. I’m with Library Addict on the formatting. They could also add in a bit more editing on some of the books I’ve read lately.

    Publishers would sell more books if they allowed discounts on e-books instead of spending a ton of money on book trailers. The only trailer I’ve even watched is the one for Maya Banks’ Highlander series by Tessa Dare.

  4. Avery Flynn
    Nov 09, 2011 @ 13:17:07

    Good to know there’s a name for me now: Power Buyer. :) My book buys have definitely gone up since I bought my iThingy. The power of the click.

  5. Darlynne
    Nov 09, 2011 @ 13:28:38

    Must be my day for ranting.

    I’m not a six-year old boy, but I would love Harlech House. Fantasy isn’t only the purview of boys, Irish Times reporter. Just sayin’.

  6. Isobel Carr
    Nov 09, 2011 @ 13:55:45

    I’m always amazed by the plagiarism thing. As hard as it is to write a book, I think it’s still easier than collaging [sp?] one together from disparate parts. That just sounds like agony to me.

  7. Jackie Barbosa
    Nov 09, 2011 @ 14:35:55

    @Isobel Carr: Word.

  8. Jackie Barbosa
    Nov 09, 2011 @ 14:37:14

    @Darlynne: Double word!

  9. Lori
    Nov 09, 2011 @ 14:40:00

    I would marry my Kindle but my iphone would get jealous.

  10. Lynnd
    Nov 09, 2011 @ 14:44:41

    @Lisa J: Exactly!

  11. SuperWendy
    Nov 09, 2011 @ 18:48:45

    A quote from PW’s review on the Markham book:

    “Markham strays far enough into James Bond territory to border on parody, but the fine writing keeps the enterprise firmly on track, and the obvious Ian Fleming influence just adds to the appeal.”


  12. SAO
    Nov 10, 2011 @ 01:15:13

    How much bandwidth do those flashy covers take? I have slow internet and I often move on before flashing ads load.

    A cover attracts me in a book store and I will pick it up and read the back blurb, but if you slow the time it takes me to read what the book is about, it’s not helping the sale.

    With a movie trailer, you are seeing bits of the movie and can judge the actors and the director. Not so with a book trailer. All you are learning is how good the company making the trailer is. I doubt they even read the book.

  13. Evangeline Holland
    Nov 10, 2011 @ 02:13:09

    Heh, seems like Little, Brown & Co have trouble catching plagiarized submissions. They were the publisher of the book Kaavya Viswanathan “wrote”.

  14. Nadia Lee
    Nov 10, 2011 @ 03:32:34

    I love this article on the plagiarist (sarcasm):

    Brooklyn author Quentin Rowan said he wrote his first novel under the pseudonym Q.R. Markham “in case there was something down the road that I wanted to put my real name on.”

    Rowan was frank about his intention to go for the money.

    “With the economy so bad, there’s no room for a writer to worry about selling out, he said. “People who were writing thoughtful short stories about suburban malaise are now writing vampire stories.”

    Well. At least he didn’t say “bodice rippers”.

%d bloggers like this: