Japan's Rakuten buys maker of Borders' e-reader

Rakuten, the Japanese company behind Buy.com, picks up the third-place e-reader maker, Kobo, for more than $300 million, shortly after its major U.S. seller goes under.

The third-place e-reader lives on to fight another day, thanks to plenty of yen.

Kobo, maker of the eponymous e-reader best associated with former bookseller giant Borders, is being acquired by Japan e-commerce player Rakuten for $315 million.

Canadian book retailer Indigo, the e-reader's creator, spun off Kobo in 2009. Although the sale to Rakuten, which operates Buy.com, among other properties, takes ownership over the Pacific, Kobo executives say the company will remain headquartered in Toronto.

The sale to Rakuten could be a natural step for Kobo in focusing further on the international market. There are more than 5 million Kobo users in over 100 countries, and earlier this year, the company raised $50 million in financing for international expansion.

Kobo sales had been growing until recently. It took a big hit to its visibility in the United States earlier this year, when the Borders chain of booksellers filed for bankruptcy. Borders had owned 11 percent of Kobo, and it featured the device prominently in its stores. (Many of Borders' assets have subsequently been acquired by its top competitor, Barnes & Noble, which sells the Nook e-reader. Amazon's Kindle line continues to dominate the e-reader marketplace.)

(Via All Things Digital)

About the author

Crave freelancer Eric Mack is a writer, radio producer, and podcaster based in Taos, N.M., but he lives in Google+. He's also managing editor of Crowdsourcing.org and has written e-books on both Alaska and Android. E-mail Eric.

 

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