Kobo & Kobo Plus: Key Players in Wide Publishing

Wide publishing offers authors the opportunity to maximize their revenue and visibility by distributing their works across multiple platforms. This strategy not only diversifies income sources but also extends the reach to a global audience, making it a crucial aspect of a successful author's business plan.

Kobo and its digital subscription service, Kobo Plus, are key players when it comes to wide distribution.

As a Rakuten publisher service, Kobo Publishing facilitates an accessible pathway for authors to publish and sell on Kobo, maximizing their visibility in the global market.

Key takeaways:

  • Kobo Plus expands digital reading with a subscription model, offering authors global distribution without exclusivity.
  • Authors can publish directly or through aggregators like PublishDrive on Kobo and Kobo Plus. Authors Alivia Fleur and Keyla Damaer share their positive experiences with Kobo, highlighting the benefits of wide publishing strategies.

Kobo & Kobo Plus: Platforms for Author Growth

Kobo partners with retailers in over 190 countries, making your ebook available in a vast online marketplace.

For additional visibility and potential income, authors can enroll their books in Kobo Plus, Kobo's subscription service. 

This subscription-based model allows readers in newly included territories to reach over 1.5 million ebooks and over 150K audiobooks for a low monthly fee.

For Kobo authors, Kobo Plus represents a promising frontier. Authors can distribute their books to Kobo Plus through their dashboard’s Rights and Distribution Management and select many of the available territories.

Success Stories

1. Alivia Fleur's Experience with Kobo Plus

Alivia Fleur crafts steamy romance novels for history enthusiasts.

She started her career as a Kindle Unlimited author and has decided to go wide a year after starting her publishing journey.

Alivia began writing romance in 2022, initially with an interest in short stories.

The complexities of her characters' backstories soon determined her to expand her narratives. In April 2023, she released her debut novel, A Beginner’s Guide to Scandal, marking the start of her series Tales from Honeysuckle Street.

Her novella, The Portrait Sitting, has been recognized with a Romance Writers of Australia RUBY award.

Here’s what she said about her experience with Kobo Plus:

“With the addition of Kobo Plus sales, February was my first 50/50 month since I started self-publishing in February 2022. I have a few short stories that started life in Kindle Unlimited, before I went wide, and two novels that were both born free. I've been roughly 3/4 orange most months. So this is very exciting for me.”

This is a pie chart created by Scribe Count. It represents Alivia’s sales on different platforms.

*Alivia Fleur distributes her works to Kobo Plus and Amazon directly and uses a different aggregator to distribute to other platforms. Her experience is of value to PublishDrive authors, and we are grateful she agreed to have her experience featured on the Publishdrive blog.

2. Keyla Damaer’s Experience with Kobo

Keyla writes Dystopian sci-fi and has always published wide. She’s a Rome-based Italian author who embodies the spirit of adventure and creativity. By day, she's a diligent part-time accountant, but by night, she transforms into a storyteller. The Parallels marks her entry into the literary world as an independent author. This book is the first in The Sehnsucht Series.

Publishing directly through Kobo helped her increase her earnings, so much so that Kobo surpassed Amazon in revenue. 

Here's what the author said:

"Publishing wide with Kobo has been a rewarding experience, providing access to a global audience and enabling me to retain control and ownership of my work.

Until August of last year, I distributed to Kobo through D2D, a distributor, but I was leaving money on the plate, not to mention the impossibility to submit directly to Kobo’s promotions and distribute audiobooks.

By comparing the first quarter of this year income with the first quarter of the past year, Kobo has become my first source of income, surpassing even Amazon and my store.

Take into consideration that I’ve always been wide because I refuse any kind of control over my intellectual property, and if I subscribed to KU, I’d guarantee exclusivity to Amazon for my e-books. Then, I’d be forced to spend big money to advertise on Amazon and be rewarded with a pittance. Not a chance.

I write Dystopian sci-fi, and published a novel and several short stories in the same series."

Here are two pie charts: the first one from 2023 and the second from 2024. The second one shows how Kobo's sales surpassed Amazon's.

2023 pie chart from ScribeCount
2024 pie chart from ScribeCount

Results from PublishDrive's 2023 Book Sales Statistics

We can confirm that Kobo Plus is an excellent place for authors and publishers to distribute their books. Our 2023 Annual Book Sales Report indicates a significant uptick in sales through Kobo Plus, marking a 154% increase in comparison to the previous year, 2022.

What’s more, 40% of book sales are from platforms other than Amazon. Authors and publishers are encouraged to broaden their distribution to capture missed royalties.

Relying exclusively on Amazon means missing out on potential earnings from other channels.

Going wide offers several advantages, including diversified income streams, which mitigate dependency on a single retailer, and adaptability to industry shifts. Wide publishing expands global readership through different platforms with regional strengths and increases chances of discovery through various algorithms and promotional strategies.

How Does Kobo Work? There Are Two Ways to Distribute to Kobo & Kobo Plus

Authors can distribute their books to Kobo and Kobo Plus either directly through the Kobo Writing Life platform or via aggregators like PublishDrive. This flexibility allows authors to maintain control over their distribution while taking advantage of Kobo Plus's extensive reach.

1. Directly with Kobo

Kobo’s self-publishing platform, Kobo Writing Life, is a great option if you want to self-publish your book just with Kobo.

How to publish on Kobo:

  1. Create a Kobo Writing Life account: This is your hub for everything Kobo publishing.
  2. Describe your ebook: Fill out title, synopsis, and upload a cover.
  3. Add your manuscript: Ensure it's in a compatible format (ePub is preferred). Kobo can convert some formats for you.
  4. Choose rights and distribution: Decide where you want your book sold and any DRM protection.
  5. Set your price: Determine how much you want to charge for your eBook.
  6. Publish! Hit that button and your book will be on Kobo within 72 hours.

How to publish on Kobo Plus:

  1. Log into your Kobo Writing Life account and click on the book you wish to manage for Kobo Plus. Navigate to the Rights and Distribution tab located on the right side.
  2. To enroll your book in Kobo Plus, click on Available for Kobo Plus subscription. If you want to withdraw your book from Kobo Plus, simply deselect this option.
  3. For broad distribution, activate the option Include everywhere Kobo Plus is available by checking the box. This action ensures your book is accessible in all existing Kobo Plus territories, as well as any added in the future.
  4. If you prefer to make your book available only in specific territories, click on Select specific territories for Kobo Plus. Following this selection, you'll see a list of available countries.

More details here.

2. Distribute via PublishDrive

Once you have created your account, head to My Books in the Dashboard, choose to upload a new title, select the format, and fill out the relevant information.

  • Upload your book’s files.
  • Fill out the creators' names.
  • Fill out the metadata to connect the book to prospective readers. There are tips for writing a back cover description that excite your reader; you should consider them before writing the text.
  • Set the book’s price.
  • Define your rights and set a publication date. This will allow you to set pre-orders.
  • Select your stores. Click Enable for each store you want to distribute your book. Include Kobo and Kobo Plus among your desired distribution channels.
  • You are now ready to click the Publish button.

With PublishDrive, you can distribute to multiple digital libraries, popular retailers, subscription-based platforms, and hard-to-reach markets. Here’s PublishDrive in a nutshell:

The Impact of Wide Publishing: Expanding Author Revenue

Wide publishing, with Kobo and Kobo Plus as important players, enables authors to access a broader audience and unlock new revenue opportunities. This approach contrasts with exclusive publishing agreements, offering a more flexible and potentially more lucrative strategy for authors keen on maximizing their market presence and earnings.

Here's why Kobo for authors could mean tapping into unprecedented opportunities:

1. Reach new audiences

Kobo Plus caters to a distinct audience from traditional single-purchase readers, appealing to avid readers. This model significantly enhances the visibility of your entire catalog, including older titles, to a broader and more diverse readership.

2. Be free from exclusivity

Kobo Plus does not impose exclusivity constraints, empowering authors to distribute their works across multiple platforms without limitation. This approach underscores Kobo's commitment to supporting authors' autonomy over their Kobo distribution choices.

3. Control the title selection

Kobo gives authors the reins when deciding which books to enroll in the Kobo Plus program. This flexibility ensures that authors can strategize their participation to align with their overall business goals without any restrictions on the number of titles they can include.

4. Increase your revenue

Evidence from markets like Belgium and the Netherlands indicates that inclusion in Kobo Plus not only taps into a new audience but can also boost traditional sales. Authors find that their a la carte sales on the Kobo platform tend to increase alongside their subscription revenue, presenting a dual income stream.

5. Tap into the audiobook frenzy

Authors can use the Kobo audiobook subscription as part of Kobo Plus, making it easier for their stories to reach audiobook lovers. This inclusion broadens an author's audience by catering to the growing market of listeners who prefer the convenience and accessibility of audiobooks.

6. Distribute globally

Kobo's distribution network ensures that authors' works are accessible worldwide. This global reach is advantageous for authors looking to penetrate new markets and connect with readers across different cultures and languages.

Embracing Kobo Plus for authors makes sense from a distribution and revenue perspective and aligns with a strategic approach to reaching a more diverse, global audience.

FAQs on Publishing with Kobo Plus

1. Is Kobo Plus exclusive for authors?

No, authors can distribute their works across multiple platforms in addition to Kobo Plus. This service allows Kobo authors to reach a wide audience without restricting their books to a single marketplace.

Kobo Plus supports author autonomy, enabling a broader distribution strategy. This flexibility is a significant advantage for authors looking to maximize their visibility and revenue.

2. Kobo Plus vs. Kindle Unlimited: What are the key differences?

Catalog Size: Kindle Unlimited offers over 4 million titles across various genres, including audiobooks, with a recent price increase of $11.99/month. Kobo Plus has a library of over 1.3 million e-books and about 100,000 audiobooks, covering genres from biography to fiction, starting at $7.99/month for reading or listening, with a $9.99 combined plan.

Availability: Kobo Plus is available in countries including Canada, the US, the UK, Australia, New Zealand, and several European and Asian countries. Kindle Unlimited serves a different set of countries, such as the U.S., Canada, Mexico, the UK, and parts of Europe and Asia.

Subscription Conditions: Kobo Plus allows up to 15 titles on a device without download limits, focusing on ebooks and audiobooks. Kindle Unlimited lets you borrow up to 20 titles but includes magazines and news, excluding them from the borrowing limit.

Trial Periods: Both services offer a 30-day trial, with Kobo Plus providing a 14-day trial for FNAC customers specifically.

Accessibility and User Experience: Both platforms are accessible on mobile, desktop, and e-readers. Kobo Plus is noted for its user-friendly app, whereas Kindle Unlimited has received criticism for its browsing experience but offers Whispersync for Voice for audiobooks.

3. Can you put Kobo books on a Kindle?

Kobo ebooks are Adobe DRM-protected ACSM files stored on Kobo’s servers. They are primarily intended for reading via Kobo e-readers or the Kobo app on various devices. Despite this, some users wish to access their Kobo books on other e-readers, notably the Kindle.

  • The DRM protection on Kobo books
  • The Kindle's exclusive support for its proprietary formats like MOBI, AZW3, and PRC, as opposed to the EPUB format commonly used for Kobo books.

If you want to read Kobo books on a Kindle, you must remove the DRM protection from Kobo ebooks and convert them into a format compatible with Kindle devices, such as MOBI. Read here how to achieve this.

4. Can Kobo Plus authors track their sales and performance?

Authors can track their sales and performance on Kobo Plus through the Kobo Writing Life dashboard. This tool offers detailed insights into how books perform within the Kobo Plus program, including sales data, geographic reach, and reader engagement. Such analytics are invaluable for authors to better understand their audience and strategize future publishing and marketing efforts.

5. Is Kobo Plus worth it compared to exclusive agreements with other platforms?

Kobo Plus allows authors to earn revenue through a subscription model without requiring exclusivity. This means you can access Kobo Plus's audience and still retain the freedom to distribute your books on other platforms, potentially increasing your overall earnings. Going wide and not limiting your books to a single retailer creates multiple revenue streams, which can lead to a more sustainable income from your writing.

6. How much do books cost on Kobo Plus, and what’s the author’s royalty rate? [via PublishDrive]

Authors distributing their books to Kobo Plus via PublishDrive have a royalty share of 60%. Since PublishDrive operates under a subscription-based model, authors receive 100% of their net royalties.

💡PublishDrive has recently launched the book sales calculator to help authors and publishers have a transparent view of their prospective earnings under a flat-fee subscription model compared to the revenue share model.

Try sales calculator

Conclusion: Why Kobo Plus Is an Essential Part of a Wide Publishing Strategy

Kobo distribution is a significant ally in any wide publishing strategy. As a Rakuten publisher, leveraging Kobo publishing tools enables authors to reach a diverse, global audience, ensuring their work garners the visibility it deserves.

For Kobo Plus authors, this platform provides an opportunity to tap into a subscription-based audience eager for new content without exclusivity constraints. This approach not only enhances an author's reach across different markets but also integrates seamlessly with their wider digital distribution efforts.