Kobo

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Kobo expands into some old-fashioned things called “bookstores”

When Kobo was bought by Japanese e-commerce giant Rakuten back in November, CEO Michael Serbinis said it now had the backing to aggressively compete with the e-reader big boys. It seems he was right: Kobo has just announced it’s venturing out into 100 brick-and-mortar bookstores across the U.K. The plan will see 100 Kobo-branded shops placed inside WHSmith stores, and mirrors moves by e-retailing giants like Amazon, Samsung and eBay. (Of course, Kobo readers can already be found in Indigo stores in Canada since the company began life under the aegis of the super-chain.) We love that a scrappy, inexpensive Canadian tablet is doing so well—but it does make us a little sad that that other one is just limping along. [Toronto Star]

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Japanese giant Rakuten to buy Indigo’s majority stake in Kobo for close to $150 million 

Turns out we aren’t the only ones who love Kobo: news broke yesterday that the e-reader company is soon to be scooped up by Japanese behemoth Rakuten. The e-commerce company, one of the world’s top three by revenue, is buying the Toronto-based company for $315 million; Indigo, the largest shareholder, will see around $140 to $150 million. But why sell one of Canada’s bigger success stories? According to Indigo CEO and Kobo chair Heather Reisman, Indigo simply doesn’t have the cash to support Kobo going forward (Reisman’s personal wealth notwithstanding). “Over the next year, this business will need in excess of $100 million to take it to where this industry is going,” she told Canadian Business. “We just cannot play in that league for that amount of capital.” Kobo CEO Michael Serbinis agreed. “We’re dealing with Amazon [and] Apple, and if that weren’t enough, Google is interested in [the e-reading market],” he said. “We’ve always been competing with goliaths, and now we’ve got a goliath backstopping us…With Rakuten at our side and at our back, I see Kobo becoming a multi-billion-dollar company.” Read the entire story [Quill and Quire] »

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Features

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The Loaded List: we catalogue the astronomical salaries of Toronto’s ruling class

The Loaded List
It’s not particularly polite to ask rich people what they earn. But tact is overrated, and we wanted to know, so we asked anyway. When they told us to get lost, we got sneaky. We dug up disclosure documents, annual reports and the tax filings of charitable organizations. When those trails went dry, we surveyed industry insiders who know what other people make—headhunters and consultants and analysts and colleagues—and asked for an educated guess. After hundreds of calls and emails and deep-throat meetings in dark alleys, we phoned the high earners back and told them what we found. Again, with feeling, they told us to piss off.

What follows is our shamelessly gawking, as-precise-as-possible examination of the highest-paid people in the city’s top industries. When the information was available, we included bonuses and perks and, in some cases, exercised stock options. Our findings verified that a high earner in finance is almost always on a different plane (a private jet, usually) than a high earner in, for example, the lowly arts. One major discovery: Heather Reisman took a pay cut. One truth reconfirmed: no matter how rich you are, there’s always someone who makes a helluva lot more.

CLICK HERE TO START THE STORY »

VIEW BY INDUSTRY » GOLD ARTS AND ENTERTAINMENT FUND MANAGERS SPORTS SHOP OWNERS MEDIA LANDLORDS BAY STREET PUBLIC SERVANTS

VIEW BY SALARY » SEE 69 OF THE RICHEST PEOPLE IN THE CITY’S TOP INDUSTRIES, SORTED BY SALARY FROM HIGHEST TO LOWEST

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50 Reasons to Love Toronto: No. 26, Kobo is taking on the Kindle

No. 26, Heather’s picks are sometimes spot-on

When Heather Reisman, the founder of Indigo Books and Music, began selling e-books in 2009, she made a choice that seemed self-sabotaging. Kobo, her e-book web store, allows purchased books to be downloaded onto a variety of smart phones, tablets and e-readers (not just Kobo’s own wireless reading device). The open platform policy is a philosophical divide from the original Kindle e-books, which had limited compatibility. Reisman, it turns out, was ahead of the curve: the easy accessibility of Kobo gave it an advantage over other e-book web stores. There are now three million Kobo users in 200 countries, with access to two million e-book titles. It seems that giving book lovers a choice simply increases their appetite to read.

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The Goods

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E-books keep spreading like wildfire as Kobo introduces touch-y new model

Kobo, the Indigo-owned e-book company that is both an “underdog” and a “powerhouse” (both descriptors care of Time magazine), announced a new e-reader yesterday. The most recent iteration includes a touch screen and ditches that directional button (which only serves as a clunky reminder of 20th-century video games, anyway). This morning, Barnes and Noble announced a similar design. Both models only have one button, use the same size screen, and have screens with faster response times, and both companies have introduced new social functions to their e-readers. The Kobo device will be available in Indigo stores for $139.

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iPad 2 launch: Are Kobo and RIM crying right now? They might want to

All of nerd-topia is on the Internet this afternoon (as opposed every other afternoon?), poring over the details of Apple’s iPad 2 launch. In short, the new iPad is slimmer, faster, lasts longer, comes with two cameras, and a partridge in a pear tree all at the same price point as the previous model. Will all that convince people to ditch their existing iPads and buy new ones? Probably not, unless they’re dying to do some video chatting.

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