Sales of Kobo e-readers are up 145% in the first quarter, the company reported today, bucking an industry-wide trend of declining e-reader sales in the face of increased tablet computer and smartphone adoption. Kobo now has 14.5 million users who are reading 34% more now than they were a year ago.
The sales increase resulted in a 98% growth in revenue for the company. Kobo CEO calls the digital reading market a $250 billion concern that’s still in the early stages of a 25-year transition.
KOBO’S BET TO DOUBLE DOWN ON PASSIONATE BOOKLOVERS PAYS OFF: Q1 EREADER SALES UP 145% YEAR OVER YEAR
Limited edition Kobo Aura HD accounts for more than 1 in 4 Kobo eReaders sold at retail
Kobo, a global leader in eReading, today announced double-digit Q1 year-over-year growth across its device and content sales resulting in a 98 percent growth in revenue. In the first quarter, the company grew its user base by 2.5-million Readers bringing its total registered users to 14.5-million with 15 percent of its new user base coming from the US. At the same time, Kobo’s customers are reading 34 percent more in Q1 compared to the same time period last year.
“This is a massive $250-billion market and still in the early days of a 25-year transformation,” said Michael Serbinis, CEO, Kobo. “At Kobo, we’re focused on people who are passionate about reading, who love books, who want an experience that lets them get lost in words. Our commitment to delivering the best content, devices and overall experience anywhere in the world is attracting more Readers than ever before.”
The limited edition Kobo Aura HD, launched last month, exemplifies the climbing eReader category and Kobo’s international trajectory. Named by the Wall Street Journal as “The Best eReader” which “rivals the printed page,” the Kobo Aura HD priced at $169 has accounted for up to 27 percent of Kobo devices sold at retail with more than 50 percent of those customers being new to Kobo. Currently available in the United Kingdom, the United States, Canada, Italy and Germany, the Kobo Aura HD is slated to arrive in Australia, France, the Netherlands and Brazil in the coming months.
CONTENT IS KING, AND CONTINUES TO GROW
Kobo’s eBookstore continues to grow with more than 500,000 new titles already added this year and with new children’s, manga, graphic novels and magazine categories arriving this summer. From international bestsellers like Dan Brown’s Inferno and Khaled Hosseini’s And the Mountains Echoed, to independent authors published through Kobo Writing Life, Kobo seeks to meet the unique needs of its customers across 190 countries reading in 68 languages.
Since its launch less than a year ago, Kobo Writing Life has firmly established itself as a launching pad for authors by empowering them to quickly publish their work to an international audience. Tens of thousands of authors from 124 countries have self-published in 54 languages using Kobo Writing Life and there are currently more than 100,000 Kobo Writing Life titles available for purchase on Kobo.com. Sales of Kobo Writing Life titles now make up 10 percent of Kobo’s revenue with 10 percent of the top 50 bestseller list comprised on independent authors.
“By making it easier for publishers and authors to publish new and back-listed titles we are broadening the scope of content we are able to bring to Readers around the world,” said Mark Lefebvre, Director Self-Publishing and Author Relations, Kobo. “By innovating within the platform, Kobo delivers the most author-centric, intuitive and flexible interface available on the market today.”
GLOBAL STRENGTH, LOCAL EXPERIENCE
A unique differentiator for the company, Kobo continues its efforts to work together with publishers, authors and booksellers of all sizes to advance the transformation of print to digital in mutually beneficial relationships. Its independent bookseller network now includes the American Booksellers Association, Booksellers Association in the UK, and the New Zealand Booksellers Association and together with its territory partners, the Kobo eReading experience is now delivered through more than 17,600 retail locations around the world.
The company, which will expand to India, China and Russia, intends to continue its successful track record which has seen the company capture significant international share in the competitive eBook market. For example, Kobo is estimated by publishers to represent up to 50 of digital sales in established countries like Canada and 20 percent in new markets such as France, Italy, Australia, New Zealand and Brazil.
“New countries or established ones, we go where the readers are. That’s what drives us,” said Michael Tamblyn, Chief Content Officer, Kobo. “And in each country we enter, we strive to give them a reading experience filled with the best local authors and publishers, in partnership with the best retailers, constantly pushing the boundaries of what reading can be.”
With its eReading devices available across North America at www.kobo.com, Kobo’s experience is further made accessible with its iOS and Android apps. In Q1, the Kobo Android app was downloaded millions of times resulting in a 378 percent increase year over year. The company expects to launch its eReading app for BlackBerry BB10 in June.
About Kobo Inc.
Kobo Inc. is one of the world’s fastest-growing eReading services offering more than 3.5-million eBooks, magazines and newspapers to millions of customers in 190 countries. Believing that consumers should have the freedom to read any book on any device, Kobo provides consumers with a choice when reading. From its Family of eReaders, which includes the Kobo Touch™, Kobo Mini, Kobo Glo, Kobo Aura HD and Kobo Arc, to its free, top-ranked eReading applications for Apple®, BlackBerry®, Android®, and Windows® products, Kobo ensures the next great read is just a page-turn away. Headquartered in Toronto and owned by Tokyo-based Rakuten, Kobo eReaders can be found in major retail chains across the globe. For more information, visit www.kobo.com.