More detail on the W H Smith Kobo deal

My colleague Lisa has dug out some more detail on the Kobo W H Smith deal.

Most important is the reveal that WHS will pocket a cut of any e-book sold through Kobo's 2.2 million-book store from any customer in the UK or Ireland -- even if that sale does not get routed through the UK WHS site. This puts the deal on a much better footing, since it gets around the issue of WHS' poor e-book website, which would result in customers migrating to Kobo full-time. I could be wrong, but this wasn't the case when Borders and Waterstone's allowed Amazon to operate their websites: Amazon.co.uk still ploughed on regardless taking marketshare off its clients.

Also interesting, in light of my previous blog about my experience trying to buy a Kobo device from W H Smith, is the line that W H Smith has trained 6,000 staff. WHS head of non-fiction and digital books, Toby Keir, told us: "In the majority of stores there are working units so customers can see and feel the product and learn how to use the devices ahead of making a purchase . . . In our larger stores we are also adding dedicated staff during peak trading to talk to customers and demonstrate the key features of the devices."

The WHS store in Victoria Station, London, has also been "wrapped" in Kobo advertising (see picture), and the chain has readied television and press advertising for the launch, which it sees as a key part of its Christmas offer.

I've also been in twitter-touch with Lindsey Mooney, vendor manager at Kobo in the UK, who may -- it is hoped -- share some information about how she is training WHS store managers.

 

Comments

KOBO & WH SMITHS

Richard Stephenson's picture

I really need to get better educated on the strategy of both companies. KOBO appears to be setting out to be an Amazon alternative for ebooks. The deal with WH SMITHS gets them high street retail space to sell their device and hopefully dent the Kindle market share. If WHS is getting a slice of all UK sales of ebooks made directly from the KOBO store there is some reward for WHS raising KOBO's profile in the UK. But as Philip points out, this move is unlikely to provide a strategic anchor for the WHS ebook store. As a consumer I now have a choice, a Kindle with the backing of the Amazon store or a KOBO device with access to a KOBO store. The existance of the WHS site does not seem to be of much consequence to the consumer, or am I missing something? KOBO are nice people tugging at the trouser leg of Amazon. They must be hoping that by taking on Amazon head on they will get bought before they get rolled over by a large business that has the real financial power to be a genuine alternative to such a fierce competitor.

Kobo&WHSmith

"In the majority of stores there are working units so customers can see and feel the product and learn how to use the devices ahead of making a purchase . . . In our larger stores we are also adding dedicated staff during peak trading to talk to customers and demonstrate the key features of the devices."

mmm...There most certainly wasn't at 11.30 am in the main Queen St, branch, Cardiff.

There were 2 empty 'holsters' and one kobo basic device on display. I asked where the 'touch' models were and after some deep thought, I was told that they were 'on charge.' I was advised to have a play with the basic model. So I powered it on only to be greeted after a few seonds with the message that 'this device needs charging.' I pointed this out and was told that they had been busy and to come back later.

Evidently my 20 mile drive, £5 rip off parking fee to see a working device were all my own fault then.

 

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