Brazil is reportedly going to be the next hot ebook market, with Apple, Amazon, and Kobo all either having launched a local store or planning to launch one very soon. Today I learned that Kobo is about to be the second ebookseller to enter the market.
There has not yet been any official announcement from Kobo, but local sources in Brazil have reported that Livraria Cultura, Kobo's Brazilian retail partner, is going to launch Kobo's old ereader at midnight.
The Kobo Touch will go on sale on the Livraria Cultura website at midnight with a price tag of R$ 399 (~$191 USD). The ereader is not expected to ship until 5 December, but as of tomorrow readers will be able to buy any of 12 thousand titles in Portuguese (the same number as Livraria Cultura sold yesterday).
Kobo's newer ereaders will also be available from Livraria Cultura early next year, though no specific details have been released on the price or ship date for the Kobo Arc, Kobo Glo, or Kobo Mini.
TBH, I am at something of a loss to find any details to corroborate this story. Livraria Cultura still has their existing ebookstore up and running and they still link to their reading apps in iTunes and Google Play Store (one of which was made by Aldiko). But this source is usually reliable, so it seems likely that the story is true.
Update: Kobo has announced the news.
That is a surprisingly high price for the Kobo Touch, isn't it? It's not profiteering, if that's what you think; no, Brazil has ridiculous import duties which as you can see here can double the price of devices sold in the country. And even with the high price, the Kobo Touch is still competitive in the Brazilian ereader market.
But the downside of the Kobo Touch selling for R$ 399 is that it offers an excellent opportunity for Amazon to undercut the price. If Amazon decides to take a loss and sell the Kindles for a lot less, they could potentially sweep the market.
And I do expect Amazon to sell the Kindle in Brazil in the next few weeks. They've already lost the lead in that market to Apple, which launched the iBookstore in South America last month; Amazon won't want to be shown up by Kobo as well - not again, at least.
This won't be all that great news for Brazilian publishers, though. I have heard from many readers who complain that the ebook prices in Brazil are just as bad or worse than the print prices. But thanks to greater attention in the local media, the 70% of Brazilians unfamiliar with ebooks will discover international publishers who ask a reasonable price and are happy to take their money. Someone, at least, will come out ahead.