Back in September I ran a post here on Nook’s future, speculating on the possibility Nook could be acquired by the Chinese ebook behemoth Tencent, which was actively looking for global expansion possibilities. A sentiment shared by Jane Friedman and Porter Anderson at the Hot Sheet.
Nothing yet to suggest Tencent has Nook on its radar, but for anyone wanting to dismiss the possibility Tencent is looking beyond Asia (Tencent partnered with Thailand’s Ookbee earlier this year), consider news emerging that Tencent is pumping $40 million USD into the Canadian e-reading site Wattpad.
Wattpad has just launched a new paid subscription service, Wattpad Premium, allowing US and Canada readers to pay $5.99 a month to read ad-free. This just after Wattpad announcing it had topped 60 million monthly users, with 2.5 million active authors across fifty languages.
Earlier this month Variety reported Wattpad had signed a deal with Entertainment One to develop Wattpad stories for film, TV and virtual reality, looking to turn Wattpad stories into global properties.
In August Wattpad launched its video storytelling app Raccoon, and the month before had launched its chat fiction app Tap.
These in turn followed the launch of Wattpad Studios in 2016.
In March of this year Wattpad entered into an audiobook partnership with Hachette, and in July partnered with Hachette again, this time with its French books division.
Just what the Tencent investment will bring remains to be seen, but my guess is Wattpad content access to the China market and Tencent content reaching Wattpad’s consumers will be just the start.
With access to Wattpad’s statistics Tencent will be able to identify promising new e-reading territories currently off the radar of the big western ebook players – in Africa, for example – and we might just see Tencent and Wattpad target the more internet-advanced African countries like Nigeria, Kenya, Ghana, Rwanda, Cote d’Ivoire and Senegal.
As for Nook… I’d say the prospect of Tencent buying Nook is now a very real possibility.