Digital platform provider Rakuten Kobo today announced a new program designed to boost its partnership with the American Booksellers Association (ABA). Set to launch sometime this summer, Kobo officials said the program, dubbed “eRead Local” will run for 100 days, during which time participating ABA members will receive $5 for every new Kobo customer they deliver. In addition, each customer signed up through an ABA affiliate will receive a $5 credit for use toward their first Kobo e-book purchases.
In a statement, Michael Tamblyn, President and Chief Content Officer, Rakuten Kobo described the new effort as an “incentive program" with the goal of “driving more customers to member stores through an expanded e-book offering.”
In addition to the payments, ABA members who acquire 100 new Kobo customers will also be entered for a chance to win an in-store event with a not yet determined “bestselling author,” while those who acquire 50 new customers will be eligible for a chance to win Kobo e-readers for use in in-store customer contest. ABA members will also be provided marketing kits.
The Kobo/ABA partnership, designed to give indie bookstores a way to offer digital content to their customers, debuted just before the 2012 holiday season, replacing a Google program that did not perform well. Now in the third year of a three-year deal, the Kobo program has performed better than Google, but results still have been mixed at best.
In January, ABA CEO Oren Teicher told PW that ABA “remains committed to supporting member stores that want to offer digital content.” But thus far, digital sales from participating ABA booksellers have been slow.
Nevertheless, while indie sellers may earn little from digital sales at this point, participating in the Kobo program requires little additional effort—and it offers sellers the ability to better serve their customers, Harvard Book Store owner Jeff Mayersohn told PW earlier this year, which makes the program useful.
“If a customer, for whatever reason, asks us to provide e-books, and it’s pretty straightforward for us to do, why wouldn’t we?” Mayersohn said. “The alternative is to tell the customer to go to the competition, which we’d rather not do.”