Kobo CEO Faces Uphill Ebook Battle Against Apple, Amazon
Michael Tamblyn finds himself in an unenviable position. He has a great job – he’s the new CEO of Rakuten Kobo Inc. – but the easy days of ebook sales seem to be over, and industry estimates suggest 2015 was a flat year for ebook purchases in North America.
That said, Kobo has 26 million users and a library of 4.7 million ebooks and magazines in 190 countries, and it appears to be making strides. “January was Kobo’s best ebook sales month ever,” says Tamblyn, who estimates ebooks make up 18 per cent of Canadian book purchasing. Kobo’s most dedicated customers buy an average of one e-book a month and 16 print books a year. And while industry-wide numbers can be tough to precisely pin down, Kobo is regarded as the No. 3 retailer in ebooks worldwide, behind Amazon and Apple.