Friday, September 19, 2014

BPN 1689: Dutch e-reading market in flux

The market for e-readers and e-books in the Netherlands is changing. The online shop, recently acquired by the supermarket concern Albert Heijn, has announced a cooperation with the Canadian e-reading company Kobo. The chain of Libris bookstores, which until now had Kobo in their portfolio, change over to the German e-reader Tolino. And the rumours are stronger that Amazon will have a distribution centre based in The Netherlands instead of distributing from Germany. And as of September 13, the public libraries started an e-book campaign, adding more than 1,000 new Dutch lingual e-books to their collection of 7,000 e-books with many bestsellers. These developments are taking place against the backdrop of the disappearance of Sony e-readers and e-books from the Dutch market. has chosen to cooperate with the Canadian company Kobo, the runner-up in the global market of e-reading. Kobo provides millions of users in 190 countries worldwide with titles from the largest catalogue with over 4 million e-books in 68 languages​​, a portfolio of reading devices with an open platform and apps. in the Netherlands can now strategically compete with Amazon, admittedly the world player with the reading machine Kindle, but with a closed platform. Kobo is part of the Tokyo-based eCommerce company Rakuten. Along with Albert Heijn should be able to create a large Dutch e-book market for Kobo.

The chain of Libris bookshops terminated its cooperation with Kobo immediately, as if stung by a wasp, and announced the distribution of Tolino, an e-reader that has been put in the market since March 2013 by a German cooperative of bookstores and book clubs. The cooperative is active in Germany, Switzerland and Austria, but also in Belgium, where the Standard bookstores sell the Tolino e-reader. Tolino is also an open platform, and can even work on open source software.

Amazon has had the intention to conquer the Dutch market. So far the company has done this through their German distribution channels, but now the company is showing signs to start a Dutch operation. Two years ago Amazon started talks with CB (formerly Central Book House), which runs the largest database with Dutch lingual e-books. Now the company has started to talk with publishers. Publishing company Xander has already been signed, but Podium is very hesitant to sign. Amazon is in a fight with US publishers and Dutch publishers will be afraid to fall victim to the same type of squeezing. Besides Amazon is aiming broader at selling publishing products such as printed books, videos, games and other products. As such, Amazon is a direct competitor

Public libraries conducted during the summer holidays the Holiday Bieb action. Eight weeks long members of the public libraries had access to a wide reading package for the whole family. A total of 345,000 people downloaded the app, with 200,000 new users this summer. In total this summer, 1.5 million e-books were downloaded, three times as many as last year; of these downloads there were 485,000 youth titles.

It is clear that there will be a lot of competition and promotion for e-reading in the coming year. The major fight will be between and Amazon, while Libris will attempt some impact through their bookshop chain.  The whole effort will result in more e-readers and legal purchase of Dutch and foreign-language e-books. The public libraries will attempt to convert its two million adult members to e-reading. 

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