Kobo might have played third fiddle to Amazon and Barnes & Noble in the e-reader space, but those strings will soon carry a different tune — the company just announced it's being acquired by Japanese e-commerce company Rakuten for $315 million. Though Kobo's stock was distributed a few different places (founding Canadian retailer Indigo had a majority, and defunct bookseller Borders famously had 11 percent), Rakuten has agreed to buy up the lot, giving the Japanese company a line of e-readers, tablets, ebook software and an estimated 5.6 million users to call its own.
That could help the company compete with Amazon in yet another way, and perhaps help Kobo compete with the Nook and Kindle yet; Rakuten claims to be "one of the world’s top 3 e-commerce companies by revenue," and is growing globally fast. It acquired US e-tailer Buy.com last year, and nabbed the UK's Play.com just a couple months back. The Kobo deal's scheduled to close in early 2012, and promises to allow Kobo to keep its current operations in Toronto completely intact. Find some forward-looking executive quotes on the deal at our source links.