Kobo Launches Germany’s Largest E-Bookstore, Beating Out Amazon

Kobo may lag behind the Kindle in the U.S., but not in Germany. Tomorrow, in the first in a series of international rollouts for the company, Kobo is launching its German store. Once it goes live, Kobo will have a larger stock of titles than the German Kindle store, which Amazon (NSDQ: AMZN) launched in April.

The German Kobo store will have 2.4 million e-books, including 80,000 German-language e-books. By contrast, the German Kindle store has about 785,000 e-books, including about 25,000 German-language e-books. (The German Kindle Store is currently Amazon’s only foreign-language Kindle Store, though it launched the UK Kindle Store last year.)

Kobo–and presumably Amazon–chose to expand to Germany first because the German book market is the second-largest in the world, after the U.S. E-books are still gaining traction there and in the rest of Europe, and “it’s a market where local experience matters,” Kobo CEO Michael Serbinis told us. “Creating a locally merchandised offering with local recommendations was key.” He said Kobo employees have been working with German publishers to add titles to the store for over six months. The company is also in discussions with German retailers and booksellers and will soon announce local partners. Book prices in Germany are fixed, with all e-book prices set by publishers.

Kobo is simultaneously launching German-language iOS and Android apps, and will launch its German-language E-Reader Touch in August, for €149. ($208.23/£131.51) An international version of the Kindle, which costs €139, ($194.25/£122.69) is available in Germany and other countries, but it has English-language menus and an English keyboard.

Next up for Kobo are local-language e-bookstores in France, Spain, Italy and the Netherlands. All those will hopefully open by the end of the summer, Serbinis said. The Digital Reader noted a month ago that Kobo had added e-books in all those languages to its store.

Kobo has 4.2 million users in 100 countries around the world; until now, all of them have been using the English-language Kobo store. In the U.S., Serbinis estimates Kobo’s market share between “the high single digits and low double digits”–compared to Amazon’s estimated 60 to 65 percent, the Nook’s recently proclaimed 25 percent and Apple (NSDQ: AAPL) iBookstore’s estimated 10 percent.