If, as it seems, you need to be able to read English in order to navigate the Kobo site to find local-language content, there is little chance of local-language publishers taking the Kobo option seriously.
Kobo this past week announced a raft of new devices to be available in India to compliment its still very much inchoate Kobo India platform.
Kobo digital books are of course available worldwide through the Kobo international store, but the Kobo India store offers, alongside the usual ocean of English and European language titles, a limited range of localised content in English and a handful of Indian languages, in the Indian currency, although a quick glance suggests most books are just reflecting US prices converted to rupees – a sure way to not get many sales.
Kobo will be under no illusion it can compete meaningfully with Amazon’s long-established Kindle India and Audible India stores, but all competition and new reach is to be welcomed, and the new Kobo devices are making headlines in the Indian press.
Rakuten Kobo CEO Michael Tamblyn explained: “The rich reading culture in India presents the opportune time for Kobo to introduce its world-class digital reading experience to the market. At Kobo, it is about living our values: providing a better reading experience while also taking an important step toward sustainability. We believe that each small, thoughtful, and intentionally placed act can make a meaningful impact. We kickstarted our efforts in this direction by incorporating recycled materials into some of our devices like Kobo Clara 2E including accessories and packaging.”
All very noble, of course, but whether Kobo can gain any real traction in India remains to be seen. Early signs suggest Kobo has not made a big push to connect with Indian publishers, but with the new devices available on Flipkart we may yet seen Tamblyn shift Kobo India up a gear.
But – and this is something Amazon was very slow to realise, but did eventually get there – if, as it seems, you need to be able to read English in order to navigate the Kobo site to find local-language content, there is little chance of local-language publishers taking the Kobo option seriously.
Read the Kobo press release here.
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