One of the hot stories this past week (that I didn't get to because I was at a conference) was that Kobo planned to expand and launch their own publishing imprint. But did anyone mention that Kobo are also working on a new self-pub platform? No? I didn't think so.
There isn't much detail available yet on Kobo's plans to get into traditional publishing, but they do plan to offer the usual services like book editing, cover design, layout, and other services. I couldn't even get a time frame for the launch that was more specific than "next year".
Update: I still haven't heard back from Michael Serbinis, the CEO of Kobo, but I did find this article where he talked to Quill & Quire. He offers a few more details on the new platform. It looks like there's just one, not 2.
BTW, one detail that you should watch for with Kobo's new publishing imprint is whether it will be digital only. I'm pretty sure it will be, but Kobo are owned by Indigo, a bookstore chain, and it would be a waste to pass on the chance to release a title in both paper & digital (in the US and Canada, at least).
The new self -pub platform is still in the planning stages, so I don't have much to share with you just yet. But I can say that a few weeks back Kobo hired Mark Leslie Lefebvre as the new Director of Self-Publishing & Author Relations. He's just started at the job this week, and he's going to be the one responsible with developing and launching the new platform.
Mark (Twitter, LinkedIn, blog) is a published author and he's also the President of the Canadian Booksellers Association. His past positions include Book Operations Manager at a university bookstore (with responsibilities including integrating an Espresso Book machine bookstore operations) as well as a couple positions with Kobo's parent company Indigo (working on their back-end).
I've asked a couple questions, and his current status is that he only started this week. He's looking at what authors and publishers have requested most often in the past, and he's investigating what would be needed to offer these services and make them available to authors everywhere.
As I said, it's still in the planning stages.
BTW, Kobo do have a self-pub option now, but it's not as well developed as it could be. It's also not anywhere near well-developed enough to be called a platform, and it looks to be more of a "me-too" afterthought than one of Kobo' s core functions. I'm glad to see that Kobo are improving it; they'll need to if they ever want to earn their position as one of the Big 3.
I never wrote this anywhere, but until I heard about Mark's new job at Kobo I had thought that the lack of a real self-pub platform was a mark against Kobo (evidence that they're not a Big 3 ebookstore, basically). I had been thinking that they fastest way for Kobo to remedy this shortcoming would be to buy one of the self-pub services - Smashwords, for example. Admittedly, Smashwords probably wouldn't be interested in selling just yet, but that would have been a quick way for Kobo to add a service that they need to offer.