Last week Kobo and the American Bookseller Association announced some type of deal for ABA member booksellers to carry Kobo ebooks and ereaders. The press release was vague on multiple details, and today we found out why.
The ABA has announced today that Ingram, the ebook and paper book distributor, is now going to carry the new Kobo ereaders. Ingram is going to distribute the ereaders, including the models announced Wednesday, to the 2000-odd ABA member booksellers.
Everyone's planning to get the ereaders on to store shelves in time for the holiday season, though the same cannot be said for Kobo ebooks. The special launch incentive created by Kobo, Ingram, and ABA includes free displays and demo devices, a cash bonus for participating, rebates for sell-through, and product returnability.
Leaving aside the massive amounts of vomit-inducing marketing babble in the press release, this is likely going to be a very good deal for Kobo. I don't know that they'll ever make all that much from the ebook sales, but this deal with Ingram represents an excellent distribution opportunity.
There's a less obvious part of today's news, and that is the fact that the Kobo/Ingram deal extends beyond the ABA. Ingram supplies
ebooks to the ABA IndieCommerce program, but they also distribute ebooks and paper books to thousands of other booksellers. That's a retail opportunity that I'm not sure any other ereader maker can tap into.
If Kobo can get an affiliate program off the ground which focuses on bookstores, they could potentially pick up hundreds of indie and smaller booksellers who would promote the devices in store and then get a commission of ebook sales they generate. That would give Kobo a base of active retail partners which is potentially larger than B&N's thousand odd bookstores (counting B&N College).