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How Kobo sells eBooks and audiobooks in bulk

By Kobo • September 21, 2022Kobo Products and Features

Did you know Kobo offers eBooks and audiobooks for sale in bulk?

To learn about it, we spoke with Kobo staffer Antonia who heads up the Corporate Purchasing program

Kobo: When did Kobo start offering the ability to buy eBooks and audiobooks in bulk?

Antonia: We’ve always offered the service informally, but when COVID-19 interrupted global supply chains, we started getting a lot of urgent calls from people who couldn’t access physical books. In-person events moved online. People were trying to arrange corporate gifting when their workforce was now working from home. And classes couldn’t access physical bookstores.

Kobo: How does it work?

Antonia: When a client contacts us with the need to deliver a batch of eBooks or audiobooks, sort of like how they might order a box of physical books, we’re able to sell them a list of promo codes that they can distribute to their contacts, whether those are employees or students or friends. And we create a custom landing page, with instructions for redemption, that they can direct their contacts to. The recipients redeem their promo codes and get the eBook or audiobook for free.

When COVID-19 interrupted global supply chains, we started getting a lot of urgent calls from people who couldn’t access physical books. In-person events moved online.

We have a lot of clients come back to us once they realize how easy it is to deliver eBooks internationally with a single order.

Kobo: What kinds of books are clients typically looking for when they reach out?

Antonia: It depends on the client, really. If it’s an author event, then obviously they’ll want the book they’re promoting. But if it’s a Fortune 500 company, for example, they might be looking to distribute the new book by their CEO to employees.

Mainly I’d say we sell a lot of non-fiction through this program. Lots of self-help, some health & wellness, career management and business thought leadership. As well as a lot of material to inform diversity and inclusion initiatives.

Kobo: How often do clients seek out audiobooks specifically?

Antonia: Most clients want eBooks, but a significant piece of the business is looking either specifically for audiobooks or they want to include audiobooks alongside eBooks and offer their contacts the choice. Bulk sales are firm, so the clients need to choose up-front which format they want, and though audiobooks are more expensive and price is definitely a major factor, they’re still being included in a lot of orders.

Kobo: Do clients always know which book they want when they approach you?

Antonia: Sometimes they don’t, and that’s where our in-house expertise as booksellers and our relationships with publishers allow us to make suggestions around a topic or theme that the client is thinking of.

Kobo: How does that conversation around a theme or topic go? How do you zero in on a great recommendation?

Antonia: They’ll come to us knowing they want a book to motivate people, or they want to offer a gift that people will enjoy and value. So we’ll talk about things that are popular now, or perennially popular in a given category, we’ll talk about whether they want fiction or non-fiction, what kind of feeling or impression they’re trying to create with this gift. So we might pitch something that’s a crowd-pleaser if they need several hundred copies of one title for everyone; or they might want to split their order up and offer some choice, in which case we might be aiming for crowd-pleasing titles that stand in contrast to one another in a few ways.

We sell a lot of non-fiction through this program. Lots of self-help, some health & wellness, career management and business thought leadership. As well as a lot of material to inform diversity and inclusion initiatives.

Generally, clients who don’t have a title in mind trust us as booksellers to pick something that will work for them and the people they plan to give it to.

Kobo: What’s a recent recommendation you’ve made?

Antonia: We had a client who wanted to gift audiobooks, knowing that some recipients maybe hadn’t listened to audiobooks before, so whatever we picked it had to be strong enough and have such broad appeal that it could even make someone choose to read in a way they never had before. I was really excited to suggest Stephen Fry’s Mythos. I don’t think anybody could get to the end of that and not see a place in their reading life for audiobooks.

Kobo: What are you reading lately for fun?

Antonia: Like a lot of people I struggled early on in the pandemic to focus and be able to read whole books. For a time I was just reading short stories because I love to read and wanted something that would fit with as much attention as I had at the moment. But I’ve started reading novels again and I really loved Small Things Like These by Claire Keegan. Still not a long book; I think you could read it in ninety minutes. So beautifully-written and layered in an interesting way that really stuck with me. ◼

Looking for more info on eBooks and audiobook bulk buying? Check out our Corporate Purchasing FAQ.

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