Kobo has begun selling its devices directly through its website in the U.S. and Canada instead of making customers in those countries go to third-party retailers, the Toronto-based company announced Tuesday.
Kobo makes four devices: The 5-inch Kobo Mini e-reader, for $79.99; the touchscreen Kobo Touch e-reader, for $99.99; the front-lit Kobo Glo e-reader, for $129.99; and the Kobo Arc Android tablet, for $199.99. Last year, the company stopped selling them through its website and only made them available through chains like Target and Best Buy as well as the independent bookstores that Kobo partners with through the American Booksellers Association.
A Kobo spokesman told me that last year, the company’s “top priority” was to “meet the demand of holiday shoppers around the world. As such, we paid close attention to our distribution channels to ensure that our retail partners were fully stocked for the busy buying season.We established a distribution process that runs very well, and were very happy with our end-of-year results, with Kobo’s E Ink eReader sales up nearly 150 percent in December. To further expand on our offerings and to provide customers with another place to purchase we are now offering our world-class devices and accessories through Kobo.com.”
Kobo says it has 13 million readers worldwide. The company launched in Brazil, Portugal, Italy, Japan, Spain, South Africa and the Netherlands in 2012 and plans to head to Russia, India and China in 2013. In the United States, its share of the ebook market is small and lags behind Amazon, Barnes & Noble and Apple.
An earlier version of this article implied that Kobo had begun selling devices through its website for the first time. In fact, The Digital Reader notes that the company had once sold devices on its website, stopped last year and has now started to do so again.
The piece was updated with a comment from Kobo on Tuesday afternoon.