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Kobo to Introduce E-Books in Germany to Compete With Amazon

Kobo Inc., the digital book seller owned by Indigo Books & Music Inc. and Borders Group Inc., will begin offering e-books in Germany today as part of a push into Europe.

The online e-book store will offer 80,000 titles in German and the Kobo e-reader will be sold in a major consumer electronics retailer in the country by August, Chief Executive Officer Michael Serbinis said yesterday in an interview. Online stores offering e-books in local languages will follow in France, Spain, the Netherlands and Italy this year, he said.

Kobo, based in Toronto, was created with international expansion in mind and Europe is appealing because the adoption rate of digital books is two years behind the U.S., Serbinis said. Inc., which released its Kindle e-reader in 2007, doesn’t have a dominant position in Germany like it does in the U.S., he said. Amazon, which sells the most e-books in the U.S., opened a German digital bookstore in April.

“We’re not coming in when someone has been in the market for three years,” Serbinis said. “It’s a far greater opportunity for us.”

Indigo, the Toronto-based bookstore chain, founded Kobo in December 2009 when it spun off its e-book unit with investments from entities including Borders, the second-largest U.S. bookstore retailer, to take advantage of the growing digital book market. Indigo owned 58 percent of Kobo as of April 2, according to its annual report.

Kobo, which has 4.2 million users, also has an international reading application that can be used in six languages and downloads to devices such as Apple Inc.’s iPad and iPhone. The company currently sells its e-reader at retailers in the U.S., Canada, the U.K. and Australia.

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