On February 22, 2017, Rakuten Kobo and bol.com launched ‘Kobo Plus’ – a new subscription service offering readers the largest all-you-can-read selection of digital books in The Netherlands and Belgium, with titles ranging from new releases and bestsellers to classics and old favourites, including both Dutch and international titles. Customers can try the eBook subscription service free of charge for 30 days.
“Kobo Plus allows readers to effortlessly discover new authors and try out new genres that they might not otherwise try, encouraging people to read more,” says Pieter Swinkels, Executive Vice-President, Rakuten Kobo. “The extensive selection available through our subscription service means the only thing readers need to consider is what book to read next.”
Kobo Plus was developed in close collaboration with leading Dutch publishers. The subscription service operates on a fair-share model, with payouts funded by subscription revenues, which enables a self-sustaining service built for the long-term—encouraging publishers to offer a wide selection of books from all genres. Kobo Plus was designed with the booklover in mind, and provides book recommendations tailored to individual readers’ interests.
Kobo Plus is available to customers in Netherlands & Belgium. Read more about Kobo Plus here (including the Terms & Conditions)
Read the full Press Release
Kobo Writing Life authors can opt in to Kobo Plus via the Rights and Distribution tab in their KWL Dashboard.
The full Terms and Conditions for opting in to Kobo Plus appear on this same screen.
Authors should note that there is no exclusivity required in order to take advantage of this opportunity for earning revenue from a new demographic of customer in NL and BE that, prior to Kobo Plus, weren’t being served.
Authors should also note that if you opt a title in to Kobo Plus that you can’t opt that title out for 90 days. This allows us to ensure that Kobo merchandisers and our partners have the ability to plan and schedule various feature spots and be able to include titles in the 6 to 12 week lead-time that they require.
The Kobo Plus Payout Model (Example)
Let’s say in a particular month there are 100,000 subscribers paying €9,99, and they read a total of 150,000 books
(read at least 20%). The payout is based on the Title’s Price x the Price Factor:
Reading Activity Value = Total number of ‘reads’ x prices of the eBooks reads.
Reading Activity Value = 150,000 x prices = €1,065,000 (all numbers VAT excl.)
Price factor = Total revenues for the month ÷ Reading activity Value
Price Factor = €825,000 ÷ €1,065,000 = 0.77464 (all numbers VAT excl.)
A title was read 1,00 times
The title has a price: € 7,43 (excl VAT.)
The title gets € 7,43 x 0.77464 x 100 = € 575.56
Publisher/Author receive 60% = €345.33
Retailer receives 40% = €230.22
[EDITED July 2017 – Terms have been revised from 6 months to 3 months]
The definition of Reading Activity Value (RAV) in the terms is confusing to say the least. There are single-book references throughout it (“the book” and “each book”) which, taken with the structure of the definition, casts a different intent behind the word “aggregate” at the beginning. The RAV definition does not state it is service-wide, it could just as easily mean the aggregate of the author’s books, or even totals for a single book. I mean, it literally says “the aggregate, for each Subscription eBook…” For example, if a book had a list price of 2.99 during which it received ten reads and then the author changed it to 0.99 and it received ten more reads, the aggregate could be calculated as (10*2.99)+(10*0.99), which has nothing to do with the service-wide totals and results in an unusably high Price Factor.
Good question, Stuart.
We double checked with the finance department on how the calculation would be broken into two different value calculations.
So, in your example, (10*2.99)+(10*0.99) is how the RAV would be calculated
Or, perhaps (# reads * price 1)+(# reads *price 2)
Reblogged this on YOURS IN STORYTELLING… and commented:
This is potentially exciting news for all of us Kobo authors. I’ve set up all of my Kobo releases for Kobo Plus – and I am hoping that they eventually expand the Kobo Plus network into North America.
Can a writer sign up for this through their aggregator or do you have to be direct with Kobo? Say, D2D, Smashwords or Pronoun?
Hello Sailor. Kobo Writing Life has the opt-in button built right in, so you can opt your KWL direct published titles directly.
We know that D2D is implementing an opt-in option, so if you have a D2D account, check with them.
We’ve heard that Smashwords isn’t interested in creating an opt-in on their end.
For any traditionally published titles where there are rights in NL and BE, please contact your agent or publisher to ask if they want to opt your titles in.
Is there another way to do this if we only have a Smashwords account but are interested in participating?
This looks great, but do I have to opt in for each of my books one at a time? No single page to do it all?
If you want to do a bulk opt-in, email us at email@example.com, Terry – and we’ll take care of that for you.
Thanks – Avoiding working on the WIP, so I went in and did it manually, but appreciate the help.
You want 6 months access (so no leaving for KU, which unfortunately requires exclusivity) but benefits will only be in NL and Belgium? That’s a non-starter for me
Yeah I know, imagine us not wanting to encourage people to be popping in out out of KDP Select more often than the winter weather forecast changes. If long term planning isn’t for you, it isn’t for you. As we say in parts of Canada, “Chacun son goût”
Wouldn’t that be “chacun a son gout”? That’s the way I’ve always heard it 🙂 interesting, I just looked it up and the other way of saying it is “a chacun son gout.” Makes sense!
Thanks, Gabriella. We’ve heard it all three ways. Perhaps the one used here was one we overheard used in Northern Ontario. (Perhaps a local variance?) “la diversité est le sel de la vie”
It also means not accepting any rights offers or similar on the enrolled books, which certainly does happen.
I think you’ll find many authors are only going to test it out with their low performing titles – which means their results, and a statistically significant segment of your results, will indicate none of it was worth the effort. If Kobo Plus included English markets, more people might be open to putting in better performing titles and new releases.
On the other hand, there is also the concern that if a book is placed in Plus, currently open to Netherlands and Belgium, if more countries are added during the six-month enrollment of a book, it is automatically subject to borrowing in the new countries. If that is not addressed in the TOS, it should be. (I’ve seen the concern noted on a thread on kboards, I haven’t bothered with looking for TOS on this because, presently, I view it as a very weak experiment in which I am not interested in participating.)
I think the majority of authors want strong competition for Amazon. Those that do are likely willing to experiment with subscription models, but not at the cost of tying up their rights for too long. It’s great that you aren’t requiring exclusivity, but you really haven’t launched anything competitive with KU. Perhaps that’s because you’re focusing on getting more traditional publishers to accept and that was only the case to date with these two countries. I would suggest that Kobo is ignoring the indie side at its own peril. But, as you say in your part of Canada, “Chacun son goût.”
Interesting to make a decision based on not even reading the T&C but reading comments from KBoards. (For what it’s worth, we don’t automatically opt titles into programs without the permission of our publishers and authors. That has never been our way of doing business and should this program roll into new territories, the rights holders will certainly have the ability to control that opt-in per territory – not all that differently than the existing global rights options we’ve always had)
Terms are here: https://merch.kobobooks.com/writinglife/Kobo/en-US/kwlSubsServiceAgreement.html?v=1
And just to be clear, Kobo doesn’t ignore indie authors. But similarly, Kobo doesn’t build programs based on what’s good for indie authors specifically. Kobo builds programs based on what reading customers want and we work with our retail partners and publishers and authors at ways to best deliver that experience to them so they can continue to read more. The Kobo Writing Life team itself works hard to ensure that indie authors publishing to Kobo have access to the same programs and the same tools (and sometimes even better tools) than traditional publishers have access to.
At the end of the day you have to do what you feel is best for you and we respect that.
I’m just wondering what this is going to look like on the dashboard. Will there be a separate area to show reads versus sales?
Hi Ellie – The KWL Dev team is working on ways to enhance the dashboard to show reads (coming later this year along with other improvements to dashboard tracking for free downloads and pre-order sales). But the revenue earned will be submitted to publishers/authors via a monthly emailed spreadsheet coming directly from the finance team, showing the number of reads and the revenue generated per read.
Reblogged this on Ruth Nestvold – Indie Adventures and commented:
Interesting news for indie authors — and no need to be exclusive if you opt in! As an experiment, I’ve putz a couple of my first books in series in. We will see how this works out.
Reblogged this on Archer's Aim and commented:
For those published on Kobo, here’s and interesting development.
We can do this and still have our titles for sale on other publishing platforms?
Yes. There are NO requests for exclusivity in this program. You’re better off as an author having your work available as broadly as possible on as many platforms as possible. 🙂
I put all 7 of my Kobo books into the Kobo Plus program and am thinking of moving one of my books that is currently sold on Kobo thru Smashwords over too. My only problem is that before I could print out the full Terms and Conditions for opting into Kobo Plus it disappeared off the screen. How do I get a printable copy of it?
Yes, the KWL dev team is aware that the terms, once accepted, are not easily retrieved again – they’re working on a solution so you can easily see/read them. In the meantime, here’s a link to where they live: https://merch.kobobooks.com/writinglife/Kobo/en-US/kwlSubsServiceAgreement.html?v=1
Are there any plans to bring this to North America? I can see this as a huge competitor to he who shall not be named! LOL
We are first going to see how this works out in NL (a territory that is ripe for this type of service/reading option) – if it is a smashing success, we’ll most likely analyze on a country by country basis to see where it makes the most sense. (And, because authors have already asked this via emails to us, don’t worry, if and when we expand to other territories, the author/publisher will have to OPT-IN for those through their own control/decision. We won’t automatically opt your titles in to new locales without your explicit permission.
This is an interesting development, specially when in the future it might be rolled out further. I really do hope that it is a succes.
It will be interesting to see how the Dutch (and Belgian) people are going to react to this. There are not that many of us, so for now I think that the impact on international sales will be limited, but who knows?
I have a few questions which I hope you don’t mind answering.
Kindle Unlimited has been plagued by scammers, who found ways to trigger readers to click immediately to the end of the ebook, thusly tricking the ‘registration equipment of pages read’ that the ebook was read, while it wasn’t. Does Kobo have plans to avoid similar things happening at Kobo Plus?
Kindle Unlimited is almost only filled with indie books, as trade publishers don’t want to take part in it. Have you persuaded Dutch/Belgian trade publishers to participate in Kobo Plus? Being Dutch myself I know how my countrymen think and as indie publishing is in it’s infancy here, Dutch readers will expect to find big trade published names as part of their subscription.
I am interested to see how this all unfolds, as no doubt are you. 🙂
Great questions, Maria.
Yes, there are provisions for keeping an eye on scammers, fraud and other n’er-do-wells. Unfortunately, they plague every system and we’re constantly working on unique ways to detect and prevent those practices.
Kobo has been working with publishers at all levels for the launch of this program and will continue to do so. And because the program doesn’t involve exclusivity (something indie authors fall prey to the wiles of far more easily than traditional publishers), we do have an excellent selection of titles from across the catalog from traditional publishers as well as the more indie and smaller publisher titles.
I notice the terms are for 6 months, but I don’t see a way to see how long it is until the end of a book’s term, or how to choose to opt out or opt in automatically when that term comes to an end. Are these going to be put into place?
Like many authors, I’m concerned about what scammers are planning for this. I think you might look at the price multiplier, and give extra scrutiny to any books that exceed a certain price or a certain price per page/wordcount. Quality matters.
Great questions, Ros. Yes, there’ll be some additional work on helping ensure that the Terms are more easily visible and also a way to denote when the “term/timeline” comes to an end – likely with a prompt for a reminder about renewing if you want to stay in. Cue the UX and DEV teams on that.
In terms of scammers, thanks for the tip. Trust us that there will ALWAYS be scammers, which we already deal with on a daily basis (taking up far too much previous time that we’d rather be focusing on the good authors – sigh). Don’t worry about them. We’re already worried about them on behalf of good authors and publishers everywhere. Scammers go and come, but quality abides.
I will be switching it on for all my books because …. Despite having nary a sale from the Netherlands or Belgium I’m hoping this might bring a few page reads my way! Here’s hoping.
Ideally, the program will get your books in front of entirely new customers in the Netherlands, hopefully generating revenue where you haven’t had any before. We’re hoping along with you.
I have to say that I like that you are using the actual revenue from readers and dividing it up rather than some mystical number picked from a hat once a month. I have something like 800 titles in many languages and while I have only put less than one percent in KU I will be adding everything to Kobo Plus.
Thanks, Dan. Glad you like the way this was developed. And happy to have your titles in the program for our customers in NL.
I added all mine, except my story collections. I hope it is successful. My work is all in english. Is the english readership strong in netherlands/belgium:) My head say no, more french/dutch but I hope.
You’re correct. Dutch and French are more prevalent in the Netherlands, but there are plenty of English reading customers, as we continue to see sales of English language titles throughout European countries that aren’t predominantly English speaking/reading territories.
thank you for the response:)
THIS MUST BE MADE MUCH CLEARER UP FRONT>>> Adding and Removing eBooks. Publisher shall designate eBooks as Subscription eBooks by indicating as such within the relevant eBook Metadata. Any book made available in this manner shall remain available for a period of not less than six (6) months.
It’s fine to shout out about how you don’t have to be exclusive, but a SIX MONTH commitment needs to be shouted out as well and clearly posted in the matadata area. I’ll be sounding a warning alarm to my fellow authors.
Thanks for asking, Lee. We are treating self-published/indie authors the same as regular publishers by expecting them to actually keep a book that they have published active. Please remember that the merchandisers at both Kobo and our retailer partner, BOL.com usually plan promotions and merchandising lists 6 to 12 weeks in advance. This requires having a relatively consistent catalog of published titles (IE, having titles drop out of the catalog makes that process much more difficult)
Also remember that a 6 month commitment to keeping a new book published is significantly different than a 3 month request to NOT PUBLISH the book anywhere else.
I’ve included my books into the program.
Let’s see if the service takes off and also if kobo plussers are into humorous books 🙂
If we opt in to Kobo Plus, can we still reduce the price of our book(s) to .99 or 0.00 for a short period time?
Hi Virginia – thanks for asking. You can, most certainly change the price of your books at ANY time.
Can you please confirm how and where we will see the income from these subscription readers? ie, as ‘sales’ on the dashboard?
The finance team will be sending out a spreadsheet to all publisher/author accounts where there have been Kobo Plus reads in the previous month. Similar to the monthly sales spreadsheet, you’ll be shown the date of the read as well as the value for that read. The KWL Dev team is working on a process where the reads can be reported and visibile on the dashboard, but that work likely won’t be completed until mid summer.
Maybe I missed something. From my understanding, readers from the Netherlands and Belgium currently don’t have access to Kobo books. If I put one book into the program, and readers like it, how can they purchase my other books?
Hi Ty – Readers from NL and BE have always had access to any books you have published to Kobo (and, since we partnered with BOL in late 2014, the titles have also been available through the BOL.com website) and will continue to be able to buy any of your books where you have indicated you have Worldwide Rights or haven’t excluded NL and BE in the Rights management tab.
I’m always happy to be in new markets. Will the sales (or borrow?) data show up on the regular sales page?
Hi Nell. The reads will be emailed directly to publishers/authors on a monthly basis (similar to the spreadsheets you receive for any month where you have sales), indicating the books read and the earnings for each read. Our KWL Dev team is working on a way to present that “reading” data into the dashboard, but that likely won’t be live until mid summer.
How do we set the “retail” price for Netherlands and Belgium? The royalties for Kobo plus will be based on an individual book’s retail price, yes? Or maybe I’m not understanding the payout formula correctly, but I didn’t see a “set the price” custom price box for Netherlands and Belgium, so not sure how royalties will be calculated. Thank you.
I’m excited about this program, enrolled all my books and can’t wait to see the results. Way to go, Kobo!
Thank you for this wonderful opportunity.