Kobo Plus ebook subscription service expands to Canada

The Kobo Plus ebook subscription service is opening up in Canada after launching in Europe in 2017 in Belgium and then adding the Netherlands.

In Canada, Kobo Plus will be available for C$9.99 per month and is offering a 30-day free trial. The company has also launched a new e-reader, the Kobo Nia, which is a $100 entry-level device.

Rakuten Kobo says it has seen unprecedented growth in the time Canadians are devoting to ebooks since the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic.

In May, Canadians spent nearly double the time reading using their Kobo e-readers, up by 89 per cent from 2019, with a sharp increase of 101 per cent on Sundays, which is the top day of the week to read a book.

Canada is the home market for the Kobo company, which was set up in Toronto in 2009 before being taken over by Japan’s Rakuten in 2012.

Michael Tamblyn, CEO, Rakuten Kobo, says ‘Digital reading has been providing instant, on-demand comfort, education and entertainment for readers while also being an especially resilient source of sales for authors and publishers during this especially challenging time.

‘Kobo Plus makes it easy to read as much as you want, to dip into books you otherwise may not have ever taken a chance on, and to discover books you wouldn’t see in your average bookstore.’


Kobo says subscription was the enticement that readers needed to try digital reading in the Netherlands and adds that 60 per cent of the country’s Kobo Plus subscribers had never previously bought an a-la-carte ebook from Kobo.

Since the launch of Kobo Plus in the Netherlands, the company says it continues to experience double-digit year-over-year sales growth for a-la-carte ebooks alongside rapid subscription growth.

You can get more details at the Kobo Plus section of the firm’s website.

Indie authors can enrol their books in Kobo Plus in Canada through Kobo Writing Life if they publish with the firm direct or through a distributor such as Draft2digital.

The Kobo Plus payout model for authors is based on the number of readers subscribing and reading books through the service. Your royalty share is based on a formula that takes into account the Minutes Consumed — the combined number of minutes read by paying subscribers in a given month.

There is no exclusivity required to enrol in Kobo Plus, so you can distribute your ebooks elsewhere as well.

Kobo piled on an extra 2.2 million registered users in the first quarter of this year and Rakuten also saw other content businesses such as Asian TV and film streaming site Viki making big gains as the Covid-19 lockdown led to consumers turning to online entertainment.


In May, Kobo Writing Life added another option to get self-published digital books into the hands of OverDrive library customers — the cost-per-click model. The program is available for worldwide distribution and offers a simple submission process, which includes setting a library-specific price.

This program gives librarians from OverDrive’s vast library partner system the choice between One-Copy/One-User model (OCOU) and the newly added Cost-Per-Circulation (CPC) model.

The OCOU Model means an OverDrive distribution outlet can lend concurrently as many copies of an ebook as they have bought from a self-published author. For each digital book purchased under the OCOU model, Rakuten Kobo will pay the author 50% of the USD library price they set for their works.

Through the CPC Model, OverDrive distribution outlets will pay the author each time an ebook is checked out by a customer (CPC price). The CPC price is 10% of the OCOU eBook price, with a minimum price of $US0.99. As with OCOU, multiple customers may check out the title at the same time.

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