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Wednesday Midday Links:  Kobo Acquired by Japanese eCommerce Client

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.
Which Is Harder: Warning a Reader Off or Making a Recommendation?

Which Is Harder: Warning a Reader Off or Making a Recommendation?

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For me, it is harder to make a recommendation than to warn a reader off.  The reason is because if I make a recommendation and the person acts on that recommendation, I know she has spent time and money based on something I said.  Whenever I give a recommendation, I am thinking that this book is worth it to me and I hope it is worth it to you. I know that everything that I like isn’t going to appeal to everyone else. (cough * Caris Roane * cough).

When I’m asked directly for a recommendation, I always try to find out what the reader likes. What tropes does she like? What tropes does she want to stay away from?  Does she like agnst? Humor? Dialogue?

I’m particularly careful in making recommendations for trade paperback books, hardcovers, and hard to find books.  In fact, I’ve discouraged reviewers at Dear Author from reviewing books that are out of print unless they can be easily purchased for a reasonable price.  My reasoning has been that I don’t want foster excitement about a book that is really expensive or hard to find.

It’s become even more challenging in recommending books when I get them for free. It’s easy to recommend three trade paperbacks in one month when I haven’t paid a penny for them.  To be fair to each book, however, I’ve tried to view each one isolation, asking myself whether I would recommend this book on its merits regardless of price.

However, you often hear readers say to other readers that it’s a good book but not worth the hardcover prices.  I actually wrote that to a friend the other day about a hardcover I had read.

It’s easier to tell a reader that you didn’t enjoy a book because you aren’t asking her to expend resources (either time or money).  The biggest risk in telling a reader that book A isn’t something that she is likely going to enjoy is that she might miss out on a book she would enjoy. And that happens.  But for the person giving the recommendation or suggesting a pass, its an easier risk to take.

What do you think?  Is it easier for you to tell a reader friend to buy a book or to pass?