Blog Post

Kobo expands to South Africa to compete against Kindle

Ebook retailer Kobo announced its first African launch Tuesday evening: The company is partnering with South African retail chain Pick n Pay to sell the Kobo Touch e-reader and ebooks. Kobo promises local content available in Afrikaans and English.

The Kobo Touch will retail for 995 rand (USD $114). Amazon (s AMZN) ships the Kindle to South Africa and it is also available in some retail stores there. The country’s ebook market is estimated to make up less than 1.5 percent of the total books market.

Pick n Pay, which also sells iPads (s AAPL), operates 847 stores in South Africa and 94 stores in other southern African countries like Botswana and Namibia, though the Kobo partnership is limited for now to its South African stores and will roll out among those gradually: “Pick n Pay’s general merchandise manager Paula Vieira said that the Kobo Touch would be available in 41 stores within a few days, expanding to 71 within a few weeks,” South African books website Books Live reported from the launch, with the Touch in “the majority” of the chain’s stores “within months.”

Books Live also reports that Kobo business development VP Todd Humphrey “said the company wants to own 50 percent of the SA ebook market within one year.”

5 Responses to “Kobo expands to South Africa to compete against Kindle”

  1. Bought a Kobo Touch last week and it is wonderful!!! Offers what the Kindle offers and MORE! Able to use my local library site (which doesn’t allow Kindles!) plus other book sites …. fantastic price for its formats and WiFi. Have been looking at a Kindle the past few months and did not want to be locked into Amazon. With what Kobo offers, they will overtake Kindle sales in a short time

  2. Kobo is great as an ereader because it uses the popular “epub” format. Unfortunately South Africans still have a way to go in terms of using ereaders and purchasing ebooks. Hopefully this will help us to expand the ereader market. Good luck. Jaco

  3. Thanks for incorporating Books LIVE into your post.

    Note that most publishers in South Africa would revise the above-quoted estimation that ebooks account for 1.5% of the total books market radically upward. (I’ve not heard a figure lower than 7%, and recently heard 20% from a very well-established publisher.)

    Ben Williams
    Publishing Editor
    Books LIVE

    • That’s impressive. Unlike in the US or UK, I rarely see people reading from tablets in Joburg or Cape Town. Where is usage clustered? Will users be able to download ebooks at internationally competitive rates????