Rakuten acquires e-book platform Kobo for $315M
Japanese digital commerce giant Rakuten has acquired e-book platform Kobo for $315 million, a move that expands Rakuten's business into the downloadable media segment.
Spun out of Canadian retailer Indigo Books & Music in late 2009, Kobo touts a series of e-reader devices sold at retailers including Wal-Mart, Best Buy and Target as well as an e-bookstore with more than 2.5 million titles and mobile applications across all major smartphone operating systems. Kobo also features Reading Life social media integration, enabling readers to earn rewards by sharing experiences across Facebook and Twitter.
Rakuten offers consumer and business-focused digital services spanning segments including e-commerce, travel, banking, securities and marketing. In a statement, the firm said the acquisition will expand Kobo's reach to some of the world's largest e-commerce providers, including Buy.com, Germany's Tradoria, China's Lekutian and Japan's Rakuten Ichiba.
The Kobo deal is subject to approval under the Investment Canada Act and is expected to close in early 2012. After closing, Kobo will continue to maintain its headquarters and staff in Toronto.
E-books now generate 2.9 percent of worldwide book sales but will account for 12.7 percent of sales by 2015, according to a recent Global Information Inc. forecast. In North America, e-book sales are on track to reach $8.6 billion in 2015, representing 21.4 percent of all book sales.
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