Kobo’s big in Japan already, now heads to Italy

The Kobo e-reader looks like becoming an e-books success in Japan following its acquisition by Pinterest investor Rakuten.

The e-commerce firm says Kobo Touch has become the top-selling product on Rakuten’s large online mall after going on pre-order sale July 2 ahead of its July 19 service launch.

At the same time, Kobo has announced a partnership with Italian retailer Mondadori Group to bring its device to Italy in its ongoing globalisation effort.

The Japanese and Italian experiences certainly show Kobo has a knack of brokering good local carriage partnerships. Mondadori online media stores carry over nine million products.

In the UK, Kobo grabbed a deal with high street newsagent WH Smith last year to sell its e-readers on prominent display stands. But, asked for sales this week by paidContent, Kobo and WH Smith declined to give numbers.

In countries like France and Italy, e-books are still relatively sparsely adopted; it is still a market waiting to take off. Kobo CEO Mike Serbinis puts the Italian e-book market at €10 million last year.

Kobo is also available in the Netherlands, Australia, New Zealand, Hong Kong, Austria, Germany and France.