Kobo Books: Kitten or Lion?

Kobo's Top 50 RankingsI’ve tracked www.Kobobooks.com for five weeks now, keeping my eye on the following things:

  • rankings
  • recommending reading lists
  • search and sort capabilities
  • customer service
  • the writing life platform
  • the app, the eReader, etc.

My intent has been to deduce whether Kobo seems to understand what it will take to become a serious player in the eBook retail universe currently dominated almost exclusively by Amazon and their Kindle store. My perspective is unabashedly that of an indie author.

I’ll do my best to breakdown each of the above bullet points in a series of four posts. I’ll provide my observations/data and give my personal opinion whether Kobo is currently taking a kitten stance, or lion. Today we’ll deal with Kobo’s rankings.

The Results: Rankings

Kobo appears to have two sets of connected rankings. From any product page consumers are given rankings for said product for each of the product’s listed genres (the Writing Life platform allows publishers to select up to three). These rankings are slow to change and only reflect the general rank rather than exact.

By clicking on the actual genre, Men’s Adventure in this case, you will be directed to the Men’s Adventure genre list sorted according to “Best Sellers” (you can also sort by price, rating and title). If a product is rated #83 on the product page this indicates that the product will be specifically ranked somewhere below #83 and above whatever the next selected breakpoint may be (possibly somewhere around #120). Once the product slips below #120 it would then be ranked #120 on the product page.

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Kobo Vs. Amazon: It’s Bibliocal!

Writing LifeFirst there was David versus Goliath. We all know how that ended up. But could this be DVs.GII? All I know is this time it’s indeed bibliocal as Kobo attempts to stand toe to toe with Kindle via their new publishing platform, Writing Life.

For those of you asking, “What’s a Kobo?” let’s start with a little history lesson. Once upon a time (2009) a bunch of Canucks formed a company with the idea of not only producing an e-reader (device) but partnering it with a retail eBook website and a multi-platform application with powerful social media integration. “Read Freely” became their motto, and epub (the standard, nonproprietary eBook format) became their format.

As of January 2012 the majority of Kobo, Inc. was bought by a Japanese Company, and just maybe those laid-back Canadians have acquired some Samurai soul in the exchange (maybe they had it in them all along, but we’ll see).

In 2010 their Kobo reader was part of the reason the highly priced (at the time) Kindle slashed their price tag by over 50%. After the Kindle muscled the Kobo from it’s affordability niche, Kobo upgraded features like wi-fi and 3G. Now its Kobo Vox is priced at $179 in a standoff with the Kindle Fire at $199. But has the lowballing, rough and tumble Kobo really returned? Will the Japanese slap down the jelly donut and deliver the heat?

I’m a believer. Let me tell you the two main reasons why.

Read moreKobo Vs. Amazon: It’s Bibliocal!