In February, Kobo released their latest idea, Kobo Plus—which is currently beta testing only in the Netherlands and Belgium. When I found out, I was cautiously optimistic. Now that a few weeks have passed, I’m pretty curious.
Welcome Kobo Plus to the publishing stage!
Kobo’s working in conjuction with Bol (the largest website in NL and BE of all-you-can-read kind of fiction) to roll this out.
So what? I can hear you saying.
Well, let’s talk about that.
Let’s Talk Kobo
Many of you know about my love for Kobo Writing Life because of my post “How Kobo Has Increased My Sales Off KDP Select” and the podcast interview I did with Mark titled From Full Time Author to Full Time Mom.
I see KWL Director Mark LeFebvre every year when I attend the Superstars Writing Seminar in Colorado Springs, and I genuinely love the Kobo Writing Life Podcast because it’s indie-geared with tons of great information. (Especially for success on Kobo.) He and I messaged back and forth a little before I wrote this, and I can tell he’s super excited to try out Kobo Plus.
If you don’t upload direct to Kobo through Kobo Writing Life, why not? They’re the fastest to upload your ebooks with (including meta-data input), they have a worldwide map of your sales, and their promotions tab—a built in advertising spectrum (which is in beta) is reason enough.
*climbs off soapbox*
What Does This Mean for Indies?
In my humble opinion, a few things.
- One more option for income. Kobo has purposefully built the model so that they (and the authors) will make revenue off every read. Period. This can mean that lots of reads lead to more diluted royalties per book, but it’s still royalties we probably wouldn’t have had. This is NOT LIKE KDP. There’s no exclusivity contract.
- Competition. Healthy markets thrive with competition, right? (FWIW, there have been plenty of forerunner ebook subscription services that have failed, like Oyster and Entitle. And Scribd is a subscription model still alive that features ebooks and audiobooks.) But I feel Kobo is approaching this a bit differently. For one, they don’t exist solely on income from their subscription market. And two? They’re only opening this to markets with a different type of reader. IE—not the a la carte readers that I feel the US reflects. The only markets this option will exist is in markets that will support it.
- Greater Readership Outside the US. If Kobo dominates my sales in anything, it’s Canada, Australia, and random countries like Lithuania. My sales in the US through Kobo aren’t impressive, but internationally they’re much stronger. Being part of the subscription service is one more narrowed avenue of international exposure.
- Refinement. With trial and error comes more knowledge. Perhaps with continued testing and experimentation, the publishing industry will continue to grow and involve niche subscription services that work well. As indies, I feel we need to keep up. We cannot afford to be left behind.
- Greater Market for Translated Books. Although it may be years before this could really be tested, if Kobo Plus can thrive in the right economies and prove they’re there to stay, that means an increased likelihood for indies to see success with their translated works. (A post for an upcoming date!)
A Few More Facts
- 40,000 titles are being added to Kobo Plus (any member of KWL can opt in at any time.) 16,000 are in Dutch.
- Payouts are funded by subscription revenue. IE—self-sustainment is the goal for this type of model.
- See the full Kobo News Room article here.
- Subscription cost is 10 Euros a month (roughly $10.68 USD). They do offer a free 30 day trial.
- 1 in 7 books sold in the Netherlands is digital.
- The books are not available to access if the subscription is no longer paid for.
- KU is NOT currently available in the Netherlands or Belgium.
Kobo has repeatedly proven to me that they’re in it to win it. Which means they’re more likely to actually sell my books. More importantly, however, is that they’re the most indie geared retailer that I’ve worked with personally. They’re up-to-date, listen to their authors, and constantly grow.
My hope for Kobo is that Kobo Plus works, they can expand into greater markets, and Indies are able to reap the benefits from greater exposure.