Bol.com and Kobo team up for e-readers and digital content
September 24, 2014 12:22 PM
Bol.com, a major e-book retailer in the Netherlands and Belgium, and Kobo, a maker of e-readers and tablets, announced a deal last week in which Bol.com will sell all Kobo e-readers and tablets and Kobo.com will sell Bol.com e-books.
Financial terms of the partnership were not disclosed.
E-books purchased on either Bol.com or Kobo.com are automatically accessible on Kobo devices. In addition, e-books will be available via the Bol.com-Kobo reading app which is expected to roll out in a few weeks. The app will enable shoppers to access all titles on any tablet or smartphone. Kobo offers reading apps for iOS, Android, BlackBerry and Windows mobile devices as well.
In addition to the 1.2 million Kobo e-readers sold in the Netherlands, consumers also can read e-books purchased on either site digitally via tablets and smartphones. The selection of e-books has grown enormously over the past few years, the companies say. Today, one in seven non-fiction books sold in the Netherlands is digital, according to the Q1 Retail Report, by German market research firm GfK. At Bol.com it is about one in four, the company says.
Royal Ahold, which owns and operates U.S.-based online grocer Peapod LLC, No. 61 in the 2014 Internet Retailer Top 500, bought Dutch online mass merchant Bol.com, for about $470 million in February 2012.
Kobo is a Canada-based company founded in 2009 that has expanded its technology products and services to 190 countries. It entered the Dutch market in 2012 and is now the second-largest e-book-seller in the Netherlands, the company says. Rakuten Inc., a Japanese company that operates international online marketplace sites, acquired Kobo for $350 million in 2012.
The partnership with Kobo continues Bol.com’s global digital growth strategy, Bol says. “Over the past five years, we have invested in expanding our selection of e-books and in improving their ease of use and the experience of reading,” says Daniel Ropers, director of Bol.com. “For instance, we’re taking part in the recently introduced industry initiative LeesID that creates the opportunity to automatically collect all of your e-book purchases in your own personal digital bookshelf, even those bought from other retailers.”
Bol.com continues to offer an open digital reading system, meaning customers can read their e-books on any device, including those from Kobo or their own tablets or smartphones. Customers who have previously purchased a Sony Reader from Bol.com can continue to access their library and purchase new books.
For the second quarter ended July 13, Bol.com parent Royal Ahold reported:
- Online sales of 273 million euros, ($349.4 million), up by 16.2% from 235 million euros ($300.8 million) in the second quarter of 2013. Bol.com and Peapod both booked double-digit web sales growth, Royal Ahold reported, but the company did not break out dollar figures. Web sales figures include online sales for grocery stores in the Netherlands, for home delivery or pick-up at designated stores and warehouses.
- Total sales of 7.42 billion euros ($9.50 billion), down by 4.1% from 7.74 billion euros ($9.91 billion).
- Net income of 147 million euros ($188.1 million), a 28.6% decline from net income of 206 million euros ($263.6 million) in the prior-year period.
E-commerce accounted for 3.7% of total sales in the second quarter of 2014, compared with 3.0% in the same period last year.
For the first six months Royal Ahold reported:
- E-commerce sales of 635 million euros ($812.6 billion), a 22.1% increase from 520 million euros ($665.3 million) in the same period last year. The company did not break out Bol.com or Peapod online sales.
- Total sales of 17.24 billion euros ($22.06 billion) down by 3.2% from 17.81 billion euros ($22.79 billion).
- Net income of 197 million euros ($252.1 million), down by 90.9% from 2.16 billion euros ($2.76 billion) in the first six months of 2013. Royal Ahold attributed the decline in net income primarily to results from discontinued operations.
Online sales accounted for 3.7% of total sales for the first six months of 2014, compared with 2.9% in the first half of 2013.