This June, ebook platform and retailer Kobo will publish its first-ever title, Jian Ghomeshi: Secret Life, by Toronto Star investigative reporter Kevin Donovan.
Kobo will release the ebook simultaneously with a print edition published by Toronto’s ECW Press. Kobo vice-president of publisher relations and marketing Pieter Swinkels says the timely nature of the book’s subject matter spurred the company’s decision to serve as digital publisher.
“Ghomeshi’s fall from grace is a big story. It’s brought widespread discussion about sexual politics in the workspace, about celebrity, and it raises questions about the CBC. It’s also a huge story of hubris, and the author is a respected investigative journalist, so it’s very interesting material,” Swinkels says. “It’s precisely the timing that makes this so interesting for Kobo to do. The case is happening now, so the digital format is ideal to publish this topic of book because we have such a short lead time.”
Recognizing the need for a print edition, the Kobo team, along with Donovan and his agents, Jesse Finkelstein and Samantha Haywood, sought out a publishing house “forward-thinking enough to take on something like this,” says Swinkels. “ECW is a fantastic press, very daring, very innovative, and when we approached them they were very enthusiastic.”
ECW co-publisher David Caron says the press is always interested in new ways of publishing. “I’m particularly interested in the process, because we’ll end up with a design that will work well for both an ebook and a print book. We think of that already in our design, but now we’ll be working with Kobo, who has seen many examples of what works,” he says. “We’re very excited about publishing this title… and we’ll consider a similar model for other titles [in the future].”
Despite this foray into publishing, Swinkels says Kobo has no intentions of competing with Canadian publishers, and will consider other works on a case-by-case basis.
“We’ve done a couple of smaller publishing deals outside Canada where the author gave us exclusive rights, but this is our first real publishing deal in the sense that we act as primary publisher,” Swinkels says. “Kobo sees itself pretty much as an enabler, we want to empower publishers. At the same time, you can see how the publishing model is changing and evolving, so we will be looking for specific projects that make sense to become involved as a digital publisher or platform.”