Kobo Launches Germany’s Largest E-Bookstore, Beating Out Amazon | paidContent

I’d expect this to test three things:

  1. As Kobo and Amazon compete in Germany and push greater awareness of their deices, will the greater availability of devices that will create drive ebook uptake
  2. Fixed pricing means that self published books will have a huge pricing advantage if the authors chose to use it. Will self published ebooks begin to gain more purchase in Germany because of that?
  3. Now that you can reach German consumers on multiple platforms digitally, will there be more translation of foreign language texts into German for digital sale?

There’s more of course, but those are the ones that interest me.

Kobo—and presumably Amazon—chose to expand to Germany first because the German book market is the second-largest in the world, after the U.S. E-books are still gaining traction there and in the rest of Europe, and “it’s a market where local experience matters,” Kobo CEO Michael Serbinis told us. “Creating a locally merchandised offering with local recommendations was key.” He said Kobo employees have been working with German publishers to add titles to the store for over six months. The company is also in discussions with German retailers and booksellers and will soon announce local partners. Book prices in Germany are fixed, with all e-book prices set by publishers.

Kobo is simultaneously launching German-language iOS and Android apps, and will launch its German-language E-Reader Touch in August, for €149. $208.23/£131.51 An international version of the Kindle, which costs €139, $194.25/£122.69 is available in Germany and other countries, but it has English-language menus and an English keyboard.

via Kobo Launches Germany’s Largest E-Bookstore, Beating Out Amazon | paidContent.

Amazon Creates Translation Publishing Imprint: AmazonCrossing

In many ways this is a fairly sensible move from Amazon:

Similar to AmazonEncore, Amazon’s first publishing imprint, AmazonCrossing uses customer feedback and other data from Amazon sites around the world to identify exceptional books deserving of a wider, global audience. AmazonCrossing will acquire the rights and translate the books and then introduce them to the English-speaking market through multiple channels and formats, such as the Amazon Books Store, Amazon Kindle Store, and national and independent booksellers via third-party wholesalers.

It does go to show though how much power Amazon has gained for itself through hard work and enterprise. Owning the relationship with readers is enabling them to leverage their other capabilities and to relatively rapidly create imprints. Right now they seem small enterprises and mant dismiss them, but as I have pointed out before (and been shown to be correct) small things can grow!

Some questions arise here:

1) Will agents see the value of this outfit?
2) Will authors prefer more established houses?
3) Will their sales data and reader feedback advantage give Amazon a clear advantage over traditional houses in the rights acquisition field?
4) How will publishers react?

That last question is by far the biggest and strategically important. 2010 has really seen a ramping up of Amazon’s publishing enterprises. Beside this new imprint and a fairly large increase in the numbers of titles published under the Encore brand, they also announced this week that they had acquired a pretty mainstream writer. Publishers surely must see the danger that Amazon presents when it pursues actions like these!

Intrigued by all this!
Eoin