I still don't have a press release yet, but a local Brazilian source is reporting that Kobo now has a bookstore partner in Brazil. The partner is indeed Livraria Cultura, just like I predicted last week.
Livraria Cultura has a chain of 14 stores as well as a website where they sell all sorts of media in addition to books and ebooks. They will beselling all Kobo models in Brazil, including the new Kobo Arc as well as the new ereaders which have not yet been released. I can't see any details on prices, but they're reporting that the prices will be competitive.
The formal launch of the Kobo ebookstore in Brazil is scheduled for the end of next month. Until then Livraria Cultura will be selling ebooks on their own. They've had an ebookstore since 2010, and they currently stock around 330 thousand titles. The also sell several different ereader models, all of which are expensive thanks to Brazil's steep import duties. Do you know how Amazon is building plants in Brazil? Those duties (and Brazil's population) are the cause. Brazil has a population of 190 million, making them a very attractive market for both gadgets and content.
But the ebook market there is just getting a start. The most recent data shows that there are about 16,000 locally produced ebooks in Brazil. Even when you factor in Kobo's several million plus titles, the local language selection is going to be limited. And that is simply something Kobo will have to change. That's why they've hired Camila Cabete (LinkedIn) to recruit publishers to the Kobo eBookstore. Camile was hired away from Xeriph, a Brazilian content distributor.
But even if Kobo does recruit enough publishers, prices will still be a problem. I'm told that it's not unusual for ebooks to cost more than the same title in paper in Brazil, with some titles from the major publishers costing $20 or more.
So with all these issues, why is Kobo getting into the Brazilian ebook market? One, because of the growth opportunity, and two, to beat Amazon. The retail giant also has a local staff in Brazil to recruit publishers, and depending on the rumor Amazon is either going to launch the Kindle Store in Brazil this fall or some time next year.
Fun times ahead.