Late last year Kobo hired their first Manager for the European market. Pieter Swinkels is the head of Pub. & Ind. Relations, and he's responsible for driving forward Kobo's ambitious expansion into the European market.
A few days ago ereaders.nl caught up with him and they asked him a few questions. It turns out Kobo have a goal of dominating the ebook market in Europe. It's not just a dream; it's their goal and they know how they'll do it.
Kobo is going to set up teams to work with publishers all over Europe. They don't just want to sell ebooks; they want to sell everyone's ebooks. In fact, those teams are going to be organized by country and language. The sheer expense of it all should give you an idea of how serious Kobo are about this.
As a first step, Kobo plans to have local content from Germany, Spain, France, Italy and the Netherlands by April of this year.
Unfortunately, they're not quite doing it the best way. One blogger I follow isbecause Kobo started collecting the local taxes for Romania, which is 24%. They don't actually have to collect that much because they don't physically operate in Romania. They only need to collect the taxes for whichever country they're in, and pay it to that country. For example, Amazon.de only collect the 8% that Germany charges, and this is perfectly fine under EU tax laws.
Update: Minor goof here. Ebooks in Germany still get the full standard VAT at 19%, not 8%.
I knew Kobo would be one to watch back when I first noticed the job posting last year. They're ambitious, and they're the only ones who have the vision I want to see. With luck, this time next year we'll be talking about which of the leading ereader makers will have tied their devices to the Kobo ebookstore.