WH Smith Replacing Its eBook Store With Broad Kobo Partnership

Kobo has struck a deal with WH Smith that will see the UK newsagent and stationer sell Kobo’s e-readers and shut its existing WH Smith e-book store, replaced by a Kobo-powered alternative.

This is Kobo’s first UK opportunity, also includes Ireland and follows its Germany launch and a similar deal with FNAC in France.

From October 17, 750 WH Smith stores and its website will sell Kobo WiFi for £89.99 ($141.51) and Kobo Touch for £109.99. ($172.97).

The e-books section of WH Smith’s ecommerce website is now powered by Kobo’s ebooks web offering. In the coming weeks, WH Smith’s existing iPad ebooks store will be retired and replaced by a WH Smith-branded alternative that is also powered by Kobo.

“This is a fully integrated partnership,” Kobo general manager Matt Welch tells paidContent.

The iPad app of WH Smith’s e-book store is currently non-compliant with Apple’s revised iOS developer terms, because it takes direct payment from customers rather than routes payment through iTunes and because it directs customers to register for a WH Smith account through its website. Each practise is against Apple’s terms.

As well as its e-readers, Kobo has apps on devices including iPad but was this summer amongst the many content services to remove in-app purchasing functionality in response to Apple’s new terms. Books purchased on either Kobo devices or its website can still be read inside the Kobo iPad app.

Though Amazon’s upgraded basic Kindle is selling in the UK for the same price as Kobo WiFi, £89, ($139.96) Amazon (NSDQ: AMZN) has no plans to bring its Kindle Touch or Kindle Fire outside the US. – a gap that could be a a short opportunity for Kobo, which is also touting customers’ ability to purchase .epub books from Kobo that can be read on an array of devices.

“We take a global view and an open view,” Welch added.

WH Smith rival Waterstones is currently considering whether it needs its own equivalent of Barnes & Noble’s Nook e-reader.