Kobo has just signed 2 Indian bookstore chains as their partners. WH Smith India, a subsidiary of the UK bookseller, will be selling Kobo’s ereaders and tablets in their 24 stores in India. Crossword, WH Smith’s larger and more successful competition, will also be carrying the hardware in 84 stores across the subcontinent.
In addition to the new partners, Kobo is launching 3 ereaders and the Kobo Arc Android tablet in India. There’s no mention of Kobo’s newest products, but the press release does mention that the Kobo Touch, Kobo Glo, and Kobo Aura HD will sell at a rang of prices from 7,999 rupees ($130 USD) to 13,999 rupees ($229 USD), and the Kobo Arc will sell for 11,999 rupees, or about $195 USD.
Crossword already has some of the hardware, where it is discounted by 12% to 16%. They don’t list the Aura HD, yet. They also have yet to integrate a Kobo ebookstore but are instead sending customers to Kobo’s website. shows no sign of Kobo, but their website would best be described as underdeveloped. I don’t think it’s an ecommerce site so much as it is a placeholder.
Kobo claims to have 4 million titles in their ebookstore in 68 languages, including 95% of India’s bestselling content featuring work from top-selling Indian authors including Jhumpa Lahiri, Ramachandra Guha, and Sachin Garg.
I hope that’s true, because Kobo is going to be facing steep competition in India. Amazon, Apple, and Google all having launched a local ebookstore in the country last year, and Amazon has even signed a couple local retail partners, including Croma. This gadget retailer is also going to but I don’t think they will also be a partner in the ebookstore.
But in spite of Kobo’s late entry, their practice of signing local partners is probably going to give them an advantage. This was certainly true in France, where Kobo is in 2nd or 3rd place.
In a survey commissioned by Kobo and conducted by Ipsos India, 93% of self-identified readers, said they are familiar with reading devices or apps that allow for reading across a variety of devices and 56 percent said they would prefer to read digital content on a dedicated reading device. Furthermore, 54 percent of respondents said they would read more if they had an ereader that provided them with access to their own digital library anytime, anywhere, anyplace.