Yesterday’s announcement that the American Booksellers Association found an e-book solution with Kobo replacing Google raised a number of questions, including when the transition will take place. Neil Strandberg, ABA director of member technology, filled in more of the details, although he declined to give a specific date. “For months, we’ve pledged that our members will have the ability to sell e-books through our new partnership long in advance of the upcoming holiday season,” he said. “That remains the case.”
ABA had originally chosen Google, because it was the only option available. This time, according to Strandberg, the ABA spoke with dozens of possible partners. “We simply decided that at the moment, Kobo is offering our members the best means to compete in today’s rapidly changing digital environment,” he said.
Under the new arrangement, for the first time all ABA members—not just IndieCommerce stores—will have the option to sell Kobo content and share in the sales. No separate arrangement with Kobo is necessary. Emily Powell, CEO of Powell’s Books in Portland, told PW that her store plans to sell both devices and content as an ABA member store. Information on how to sign up will be available at the fall regionals.
During discussions at ABA Forums held throughout the spring, a number of booksellers voiced their desire to sell e-readers; others worried about the difficulty of servicing it. The new Kobo agreement tries to offer the best of both worlds with ABA members able to sell Kobo e-readers, if they choose. Kobo will handle customer service issues. As for the actual devices that ABA stores will be selling, the details are still being worked out. But those who lobbied for a branded e-reading device will be out of luck. “It is cost prohibitive for individual stores,” said Strandberg. Another request, to enable stores to offer pre-orders on e-books will not be available to start. Strandberg said that the ABA has raised the issue with Kobo. This had been a sticking point for some booksellers with Google.
Google e-books purchased through indie stores won’t be going away. People will be able to access their libraries through Google Play or through IndieCommerce even when the reseller program ends. In addition, ePUB files of previously purchased Google e-books can be loaded to Kobo devices using Adobe Digital Editions, Strandberg noted.