Triple Digit Year-over-Year Growth Strengthens Kobo's Global Leadership

With continued aggressive expansion Kobo evolves from young ebook upstart to global leader

TORONTO, June 4, 2012 /CNW/ - Kobo Inc. a global leader in eReading, today announced triple digit growth, growing eBook downloads by 400 percent, eReader sales by 160 percent, and eReaders by 280 percent year-over-year, cementing its competitive position for an aggressive year of expansion. Kobo's success during its short history demonstrates its winning partnership "playbook" for booksellers and retailers as the eReading industry gains momentum around the world.

"We're thrilled to introduce Kobo's open eReading platform and the Kobo 'Read Freely' philosophy to new countries around the world," says Michael Serbinis, CEO of Kobo. "It's become increasingly clear that the world of eReading is the way of the future and as technology continues to break down geographic borders, Kobo is excited to lead the charge into new markets and continue to shape the future of the multi-billion dollar eReading industry."

Kobo has established itself as a major player in eReading since its beginning just 28 months ago, with over 8-million registered users2 in 190 countries activating Kobo accounts, downloading free Kobo eReading apps for tablets, desktop computers and smartphones, and purchasing Kobo eReaders and eBooks.

Today's announcement comes on the heels of a string of successes for the company. Recent highlights include:

  • The high-profile acquisition by Rakuten, the world's third-largest e-commerce company, offering unparalleled opportunities to extend Kobo's reach through some of the world's largest international e-commerce companies including Buy.com and Play.com.
  • The number of people reading with Kobo Internationally has grown by 280 percent1
  • eBook downloads increased almost 400 percent3
  • Kobo eReader device sales increased over 160 percent from the previous year4
  • Kobo surpassed 2.5-million titles with 1-million free books and books in 60 languages represented in its content catalogue. Kobo recently partnered with the McClatchy Group, Dark Horse Comics and Trajectory Classics Illustrated to bring readers the latest comic, graphic novels, newspapers, as well as the hottest titles.
  • Kobo's employee base has more than doubled since January 2012, with growth in Canada, the United States, Ireland, the United Kingdom, Germany, Australia, Luxembourg, and France

"Strong eReader growth is projected by IDC for the European market; with sales increasing over 400% to 9.6-million devices expected in market by 2015. We expect Kobo's trajectory for international growth and user adoption to quickly meet and exceed market projections," said Serbinis. "We have set the standard for helping our consumers engage in reading in new and meaningful ways, while delivering on our promise to help retailers, authors and publishers take advantage of this emerging market. In two years, we've done what others couldn't in ten."

Kobo continues to build on its current International success with plans to bring its award-winning eReading services to the global stage. Through its relationship with Rakuten, the company will be launching in Japan, with subsequent launches planned for Portugal, Spain, Italy, with more launches to follow. These markets have distinct needs for digital reading and Kobo intends to provide access in regions where printed books are inaccessible and where electronic devices can be more easily obtained.

As the partner-of-choice, Kobo continues to build a successful formula for its partners by providing the business development and marketing tools to successfully deliver eReading to their customers - through its track record of success in bringing eReading to new markets, Kobo will be welcomed into more regions this year as it continues to expand its leadership position around the world.

UNITED KINGDOM
Successfully entered into the UK market with premier retailer WHSmith resulting in a strong launch and ongoing growth. Kobo and WHSmith recently announced they will be launching 100 Kobo Shops within the retailer's High Street store locations.  Along with WHSmith, Kobo is available in Dixons, Asda, Staples, Play.com, Sainsburys, Buy.com, John Lewis, Argos and Harvey Norman.

NETHERLANDS
Launched with leading bookseller Libris Blz. in March, driving significant share gains and becoming the first company to introduce social eReading to The Netherlands.  Offering the strongest localized catalogue, Kobo has grown Dutch titles over 500 percent to date. In addition to Libris Blz., Kobo is partnered with Media Markt, Saturn, Redcoon, Informatique Wehkamp and Neckermann.

GERMANY
Rated one of the top ranked eReaders by Computer Bild, Germany's largest technology magazine, Kobo devices continue to drive sales for Kobo partners.  With more than 30 percent of customers purchasing eBooks in two or more languages, the market continues to embrace Kobo's international catalogue including one of the largest and rapidly growing selections of German eBooks. Along with Redcoon, Kobo is aligned with Media Markt, Saturn, Electronic Partner, Euronics, MediMax, Expert, Buy.com, Notebooksbillinger.de and Pcspezialist.de.

FRANCE
Six months after launching with retail giant Fnac and securing a leadership position, Kobo leads the market as the top eReader in France. Recently recognized for its user-friendly design and aesthetic appeal, the Kobo Touch™ eReader received the "Janus de l'Industrie" award from the renowned French Institute of Design. Along with Fnac, Kobo is partnered with Buy.com and PriceMinister.com

AUSTRALIA & NEW ZEALAND
Partnering with booksellers Borders and Whitcoull's in 2010, Kobo has since expanded its market leadership through new distribution partners including Collins, JB-Hifi and Officeworks.

Come and visit Kobo onsite at Book Expo America (BEA) in New York this week at booth #3948. To meet with a Kobo executive, please email Kobo's Public Relations team at pr@kobo.com.

About Kobo, Inc.
Kobo Inc. is one of the world's fastest-growing eReading services offering more than 2.5 million eBooks, magazines and newspapers- and counting. Believing that consumers should have the freedom to read any book on any device, Kobo has built an open-standards platform to provide consumers with a choice when reading. Inspired by a "Read Freely" philosophy and a passion for innovation, Kobo has expanded to nearly 200 countries, where millions of consumers have access to localized eBook catalogues and award-winning eReaders, like the Kobo Touch. With top-ranked eReading applications for Apple, BlackBerry, Android, and Windows products, Kobo allows consumers to make eReading social through Facebook Timeline and Reading Life, an industry-first social experience that lets users to earn awards for time spent reading and encouraging others to join in. 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.

For further information:

Rene Samulewitsch - 416-644-2287
High Road Communications, on behalf of Kobo Inc.,
Rene.Samulewitsch@highroad.com