Yes, Kobo sells their own readers. Lots of models. Trick is that you don't hear about them in the U.S. so much - but go to one of the other 128 English-speaking countries and you'll see them probably more than Kindles or Nooks.
That's the news which surprises. But not so much when you see how Kobo is set up. Because they started in Canada and quickly went international - over the border into the U.S. Now Brazil is their quick-start expansion, leaving Amazon and some others playing "catch-up ball' with their own events.
The Creative Penn is a great blog - and if you haven't seen it, these got a nearly-30-minute interview with Mark Lefebvre about Kobo's Writing Life, where he goes over all sorts of data on how they are letting publishes post and list their own books, different from having to go through other distributors such as Smashwords and Books on Board.
Kobo Announces Self-Publishing Platform Writing Life (selfmkt episode 18)
And the kicker with doing this yourself is the higher royalties. I just saw today that some authors are starting to "jump ship" from their agencies in order to take advantage of these better payouts. Not too surprising, since even if you contract some editors and proofreaders, your royalties can be much higher for a total pay raise.
It takes just a few hours to convert an epub to a pdf and post it. Too simple, really. And a speed which is incredible. Of course, that's me doing the artwork and editing. There's other shortcuts, but it does mean that anyone can have their own self-published ebook (and paperback...) - - - - -
The trick with self-publishing is to fill specific long-tail niches - not much different than Internet Marketing and SEO in general. And the newer top fiction writers have found that out recently. But this post has a lot of great links in it as well...