Kobo to buy Aquafadas, get magazines, academic texts, comics and children's books in the process

Brian Heater
B. Heater|10.10.12

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Kobo to buy Aquafadas, get magazines, academic texts, comics and children's books in the process

Canadian-born, Japanese-owned e-reader maker Kobo announced its intentions to acquire digital publishing company Aquafadas today, an agreement that'll bring rich content like magazines, academic texts, comics and children's books, amongst others, to Kobo users. The deal also builds out Kobo's self-publishing offering, bringing more tools to the table, along with additional languages like German, French, Italian, Portuguese and Dutch. Kobo's also taking the opportunity to announce exapanded offerings in New Zealand, thanks to partnerships with Booksellers NZ and The Paper Plus Group. Back in September, the company announced a trio of new devices set for release this month and next in the States.

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Kobo, Inc., a global powerhouse in eReading with over 10 million users in 190 countries, and Aquafadas a leading digital publishing technology company, today announced they have entered into a definitive agreement under which Kobo intends to acquire Aquafadas. The global eReading market is exploding and with the acquisition of the Aquafadas Digital Publishing System, Kobo will be able to bring a selection of rich media – magazines, academic, comics, kid's books and more to Kobo customers everywhere. Kobo and Aquafadas share a common vision of delivering rich content to consumers around the world and providing tools that enable publishers to easily produce this content.

"This is a very exciting day for both Kobo and Aquafadas," commented Kobo CEO Michael Serbinis. "Digital Reading is rapidly evolving now to new rich media categories. This transaction will strengthen both Kobo's and Aquafadas position in our current markets and allow us to accelerate the growth of rich media with the Aquafadas Digital Publishing system."

Aquafadas is the industry leader in rich media and offers the most advanced Digital Publishing System that covers all aspects of digital publishing from content design to cross-platforms distribution and analytics. It combines the most advanced content design tools with a versatile library of ready-to-use apps, ePub3 export, and a Web reader. Aquafadas enables publishers across industries to create richly designed books, children's books, graphic novels, magazines, newspapers, marketing communications, and corporate publishing, all without writing a single line of code. Aquafadas will add a new distribution channel to its universal solution: publishers will have access to massive distribution through the Kobo platform.

"Kobo's arrival is amazing news," add Aquafadas CEO Claudia Zimmer. "Thanks to this acquisition, publishers who use Aquafadas Publishing System will benefit from an easy, scalable, solution that will provide access to a new distribution channel in addition to other channels: Kobo's platform and its 10 million registered users. We will benefit significantly from this partnership and amp up development to deliver more innovative tools. By working together to further enhance the Kobo product line-up the creation of rich-media content, Kobo and Aquafadas will take digital reading to a new level."

As part of Kobo's ongoing commitment to content and self-publishing, Kobo's self-publishing platform Kobo Writing Life, will now be available in German, French, Italian, Portuguese and Dutch, in addition to English - with several new languages planned over the coming months. Since its launch in July, Kobo Writing Life has doubled month over month, with authors publishing their work on the portal from an incredible 82 countries across the world, in 17 languages. With the acquisition of Aquafadas, Kobo will leverage features and tools from the Aquafadas Publishing platform to further enhance Kobo Writing Life.

Today, Kobo offers about 10% higher royalties on most sales than competitive platforms, between September and November 2012, Kobo is offering a further 10% royalties in a number of categories to authors who have signed up for the service. Kobo Writing Life's simple and open pricing structure includes eight currency options ($, £, ¥, €, HK$, AUS$, CAN$, US$), which can be adjusted territory-by-territory, as well as the ability to set a book price to "FREE" at any time without restrictive exclusive agreements.

Kobo Empowers New Zealand Booksellers to Bring eReading to their Customers

Kobo, a leader in eReading with more than 10 million users worldwide, today announced new partnerships with Booksellers NZ and The Paper Plus Group. Kobo, already partnered with leading book chain Whitcoulls, is now powering the majority of New Zealand booksellers with its world-class eReading platform.

"Kobo is committed to helping booksellers of all sizes join the eReading revolution," said Todd Humphrey, EVP of Business Development, Kobo. "While we've built our store, devices and applications based on our own love of books and the people who read them, we've also built a business that enables partners to benefit from our success. We believe that while the written word is changing, its transformation should help bookstores in a beneficial way – one where they can grow their business, serve more customers, and have a positive influence in their communities."

Kobo has found incredible international success offering localized eReading experiences in New Zealand, Australia, Canada, France, Germany, the Netherlands, United Kingdom, Portugal, the United States, Italy, and Japan with others coming later this year. The company's integrated approach gives retail partners access to a complete and robust platform that includes content, technology as well as the business services that have made Kobo the partner-of-choice in the eReading market.

Kobo established its first partnership in New Zealand with Whitcoulls in 2010, and is now working with independent bookstore members of Booksellers NZ and the Paper Plus Group to bring Kobo to almost 300 retail locations across the country. As members of Booksellers NZ, independent bookstores will now be able to offer their customers the newly introduced Kobo Mini, Kobo Glo and Kobo Arc eReading devices as well as colourful accessories and a shared-revenue model for eBooks.

"We are delighted to reach an agreement with Kobo that will allow the independent members of Booksellers NZ to add the eBook format to the great book selling service they already provide their customers in communities throughout New Zealand," said Lincoln Gould, Chief Executive of Booksellers NZ. "We will be working with our members immediately to equip them with all the technical support, training and marketing tools in time for them to engage in this new opportunity before Christmas."

The Paper Plus Group, which includes Paper Plus and Take Note retail locations will also be taking advantage of Kobo's eReading solutions to expand its offering for customers who look for the convenience of having their favourite books with them on-the-go. From early November, customers will have the option to purchase Kobo products, which will be available at all Paper Plus stores nationwide, as well as from paperplus.co.nz.

"Introducing Kobo eBooks and eReaders adds another facet to our stores and continues the successful growth of the Paper Plus brand," said Rob Smith, CEO, Paper Plus Group. "We haven't taken the decision of getting into the eBook and eReader market lightly, however it's clear that New Zelanders are embracing the technology. Our ability to bring the Kobo eReading platform to our customers allows us to diversify and help people turn more pages." New Zealand is being recognized at the Frankfurt Book Fair this year and with Kobo's experience in helping local markets grow, New Zealand publishers and booksellers are sure to find greater success in the global market. Please visit Kobo in Frankfurt at Hall 8.0 G919. To book an appointment, please email pr@kobo.com. KOBO'S GLOBAL BOOKSELLER NETWORK Kobo has developed its international presence through partnering with booksellers to capitalise on the growth of eReading around the world.

First-class booksellers continue to join Kobo's global network of leading booksellers that include Indigo (Canada), WHSmith (UK), ABA (US), FNAC (France), Mondadori (Italy), Libris (Netherlands), Collins (Australia), Whitcoulls (New Zealand) and Rakuten (Japan). Through the partnership with the Booksellers Association of New Zealand, Kobo adds to this network of booksellers to further build on the vision of making eReading accessible to everyone, everywhere around the world. In addition to the very popular and award winning Kobo Touch eReader, Kobo's device family has recently expanded and now includes an eReader for Everyone. AN EREADER FOR EVERYONE The new front-lit, Kobo Glo is the next generation in comfortable eReading. It offers innovative soft, even and adjustable ComfortLight technology to enable consumers to read anytime – day or night.

Its durable 6" E Ink screen and customisable page-turning features make it the perfect eReader for the booklover. The Kobo Glo eReader comes in Black or White and a selection of stylish colours – Pink Sunset, Blue Moon, Silver Star, and Black – and will be available for $199.99 (NZD) MSRP. The Kobo Mini is the world's smallest and lightest full-featured E Ink eReader available today, offering the full Kobo experience at a great value. The 5" Kobo Mini easily fits in your purse or pocket and is loaded with all the amazing features Kobo customers have come to know and love. The Kobo Mini comes in black or white and offers a selection of three stylish Kobo SnapBacks in Teal, Ruby Red, and Purple.

The Kobo Mini will be available for $139.99 (NZD) MSRP. The new Kobo Arc is a competitively featured Android 4.0 multimedia tablet with a new way to discover content – books, movies, TV shows, music, web pages and more. With a Kobo-developed interface called Tapestries, Kobo Arc uses an intelligent cross-media recommendations engine to recommend related videos, movies, books and webpages based on the content the user "pins" to their Tapestries. The Google-certified, 7" high-definition display delivers crisp, sharp text and with 16-million colours bring photos and videos to life.

With front-facing speakers with SRS TruMedia, a built-in microphone and camera to take photos and videos, the Kobo Arc offers up to 10 hours of continuous reading or video play, and two weeks on standby. The Kobo Arc is available in Black and White with Blue and Purple interchangeable SnapBacks. The Kobo Arc will be available for $329.99 (16GB) (NZD) MSRP, $399.99 (32GB) (NZD) MSRP and $499.99 (64GB) (NZD) MSRP.

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