Kobo CEO Michael Serbinis looks to be on the ball here: E-books: A new chapter begins
We only became Kobo eight months ago and 120 days ago we launched the Kobo reader. We’re coming out of the gates screaming and we started this price war. Everyone was at $350 and $299 and $249 and we came out $100 less. Subsequently prices have come down and new devices have come out and we have to do the same to stay in the game. It’s very competitive and we’re the only pure play, the only start-up. We’re David among a few Goliaths, but we’re confident about our prospects.
I’m surprised the Kobo Reader has been around that short a time. Really, they’ve impinged on my brain pan so much it feels like more than a year.
He also says:
Don’t assume that there won’t be a set of purely digital publishers. Today we have a group of companies that we call self-publishing houses and they make money on helping [authors self-publish], but what if there were publishers that were 100-per-cent digital? Open Road is sort of an example, but what if there were a ‘United Artists of Digital Publishing?’ I think you have a whole different model around authors who want to go straight to digital and then print as an afterthought. I can’t help think that the whole publishing structure is going to change in some ways that are predictable, and some ways that aren’t. Will there be as many publishers? Probably not as many big ones as we have today.
And that is why he’s sharp. No one else in his position has ever brought up the United Artists model.
I’ve raised United Artists several times on Twitter (which neither Google nor Topsy can now find) and in three posts:
He goes on:
A key area for us is being open and providing the most choice. We also enable you to go to libraries. We were stunned by just how many people bought a Kobo reader so that they could use books from the Toronto Public Library or the Michigan Public Library. If you want to take your books with you and go to Sony or the next company, you can have them independent of whether we’re around. That’s a key element.
That’s where we are today, but the question is: what makes us differentiated tomorrow? A lot of what we’re doing with Samsung and being the e-book store on really the only contender to the iPad that I know [the Galaxy Tab] … there will be more of those announcements as we get closer to the holiday season of tier-one brands being pre-loaded with Kobo. We want to provide you with the most choice on the most number of devices. Making the experience more fun and engaging is [also] a key focus for us in the next little while.
Kobo has managed to leapfrog Sony in some ways: iOS and Android apps plus hardware pricing for a mass market audience. Kobo is also international, unlike the Barnes & Noble Nook.
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