Thursday, July 12, 2012

Rakuten makes it clear that it intends to dominate the Japanese eBook market

Publishing Perspectives reports on a panel discussion at last week's Tokyo E-Book Expo, which featured Hiroshi Mikitani, the head of Rakuten, the Japanese eCommerce company that acquired Kobo, and Seiji Noma of Kodansha, the largest Japanese publisher. Before the panel even began, Noma held up a T-shirt he had been given by Mikitani, which said "Destroy Amazon". That's not how things are normally done in Japan, and it was a sign that the two companies are serious about preventing Amazon from becoming a major player in the Japanese market. For its part, Rakuten is now calling its eBook business "Rakuten Kobo," and is de-emphasizing the Kobo name for everything except the eReaders themselves. Mikitani's target is to get one million Japanese-language books digitized--a lofty goal, given that Japan has one of the lowest rates of eBook usage of any developed country.
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