On the success of its millionth download, Shortcovers today announced strategic financing that includes a group of investors spanning global retail and mobile sectors. The company also announced that it has formally spun out from parent company Indigo Books & Music Inc., and will now operate under the name Kobo, Inc. Kobo today raised $16 million CAD from majority shareholder Indigo Books & Music, U.S. based Borders Group, Inc., Instant Fame, a subsidiary of Cheung Kong (Holdings) Ltd., and REDgroup Retail Pty Ltd.
“We have assembled a strong syndicate of investors and partners across key categories – retail and mobile distribution. We have a unique opportunity to power the eReading revolution by reaching consumers everywhere they shop today, on any device they choose,” said Michael Serbinis, Chief Executive Officer of Kobo.
According to Forrester Research, Inc., eBook content sales are up 176 percent in 2009 and in 2010 are expected to top $500 million in the U.S. alone. Forrester also sees a global eBook opportunity based on a recent Forrester survey of consumers in the UK, France, Germany, Spain, Italy, the Netherlands and Sweden.
Today, Kobo’s eReading service includes support for leading smartphones, desktops and dedicated eReaders. Since inception in February 2009, while operating as Shortcovers, more than one million eReading apps have been downloaded by users from over 200 countries worldwide. Kobo will extend its platform by launching additional smartphone support, desktop and tablet apps, and its own dedicated eReader devices.
Kobo has relationships with thousands of publishers and is actively adding book, newspaper and magazine publishers worldwide. With the announcement of a strategic partnership with the Internet Archive, Kobo’s catalog of digital content will give users access to over two million books, with bestsellers starting at US$9.99 and over 1.8 million free books.
Through its new strategic partners, Kobo has distribution in the U.S., Canada, UK, European Union, Australia, New Zealand, Hong Kong and other territories. Core to Kobo’s strategy is making eReading available through partners everywhere and as such, the company will be working to enable a broad range of retailers, device manufacturers, and operators who will benefit from our leading eReading service.
Quotes from Investors
Indigo Books & Music Chief Executive Heather Reisman says: “We are very excited about the vision of Kobo and the opportunity to play a leading role in the emerging eReading revolution. We look forward to partnering on the introduction of new services and reading devices and to providing our customers with the richest eReading experiences.”
“Our vision for a digital strategy that’s right for Borders is taking shape today through our investment in Kobo,” said Borders Group Chief Executive Officer Ron Marshall. “Powered by Kobo, we’ll launch a new eBook store on Borders.com and make Borders-branded mobile applications available to our customers, including our 35 million Borders Rewards loyalty program members. Borders shares Kobo’s vision to provide any eBook on any device and we look forward to working closely with Kobo on content and distribution.”
“REDgroup’s partnership with Kobo will help us make eBooks and other eContent available for our customers across our popular Borders, Angus & Robertson and Whitcoulls brands,” said Group Managing Director, David Fenlon. “We’re committed to delivering the best possible range and experience for our customers whether they’re shopping online or in-store. eBooks and eContent are a great way to expand and improve our offering. We’re very pleased to be partnering with Kobo on this important new platform for our business.”
For more information, visit www.kobobooks.com.
About Kobo, Inc.
Kobo is a global eReading service backed by majority shareholder Indigo Books & Music, Borders Group, REDgroup Retail, and Cheung Kong Holdings. Kobo believes consumers should be able to read any book on any device. With a catalog of over two million eBooks, and an open platform, Kobo enables retailers, device manufacturers and mobile operators to bring the joy of eReading to customers everywhere. For more information, visit www.kobobooks.com.
About Indigo Books & Music Inc.
Indigo is a publicly traded Canadian company listed on the Toronto Stock Exchange (IDG). As the largest book and specialty retailer in Canada, Indigo operates in all provinces under different banners including Indigo Books & Music; Indigo Books, Gifts, Kids; IndigoSpirit, Chapters, The World’s Biggest Bookstore, and Coles. The online division, www.chapters.indigo.ca, features books, eBooks, toys, music and DVDs, and hosts the award winning Indigo Online Community. Chapters and Indigo are rated as the number one and number two retailers in Canada by the Kubas Major Market Retail Report, and have been on that list since 2000. To learn more about Indigo, please visit the About Our Company section of www.chapters.indigo.ca.
About Borders Group
Headquartered in Ann Arbor, Mich., Borders Group, Inc. (NYSE: BGP) is a leading specialty retailer of books as well as other educational and entertainment items. The company employs approximately 25,000 throughout the U.S., primarily in its Borders® and Waldenbooks® stores. Online shopping is offered through borders.com. Find author interviews and vibrant discussions of the products we and our customers are passionate about online at facebook.com/borders, twitter.com/borders and youtube.com/bordersmedia. For more information about the company, visit borders.com/media.
About Cheung Kong (Holdings) Ltd.
Cheung Kong (Holdings) Ltd. (Stock code: 001) is a property development and strategic investment company. It is one of the largest developers in Hong Kong of residential, commercial and industrial properties, and the largest shareholder of Hutchison Whampoa Limited holding a 49.97% interest. The company also has substantial interests and operations in life sciences and other businesses. Cheung Kong (Holdings) Ltd. is a constituent stock of the Hang Seng Index of the Hong Kong Stock Exchange. For more information about the company, visit www.ckh.com.hk
About REDgroup Retail Pty Ltd.
REDgroup Retail is the leading book, stationery and entertainment retailer in Australia, New Zealand and Singapore. REDgroup Retail currently operates five divisions: Angus & Robertson – A nationwide bookstore chain with the largest market share in Australia. Borders – An experience-based bookstore in Australia, New Zealand and Singapore; Calendar Club – A chain of specialty calendar stores; Supanews – A joint venture business that operates newsagencies in Australia; and Whitcoulls – A nationwide book and stationery chain in New Zealand. For more information about the company, visit www.redgroupretail.com.