Kobo’s content revenue was up 44% in the fourth quarter of 2013 over the previous year, and its customer base grew last year by 50%, proving its push into international markets is so far paying off.
The Canadian ebook distributor and device-maker, which the Japanese company Rakuten acquired in 2011, remains a small player in the U.S. But sales data since the end of last year has many arguing that market is still flat. The deal earlier this month that effectively delivers Sony’s ebook customers to Kobo suggests Kobo is still planning to grow its presence in North America. But other initiatives, like a translation deal with best-selling author Bella Andre in France (and even its parent company’s recent mobile acquisition) hint at a much broader-based international strategy.
That could be the ticket in the long-term. As Simon & Schuster’s CEO Carolyn Reidy said at Digital Book World 2014, referring to the book industry at large, “the greatest growth we’re expecting is in international, and digital in particular.”
Recent data is bearing out those expectations and suggests the rate of international digital growth is accelerating. Kobo appears to betting on it–so far successfully.