Mobile phone giant NTT DoCoMo Inc. and Dai Nippon Printing Co. announced Tuesday they will jointly launch an e-bookstore starting Wednesday to expand their business in the growing business.
The new venture firm, named 2Dfacto Inc., will launch the e-bookstore with about 20,000 titles, none in English, and it plans to expand the total number of titles available to about 100,000 by the spring, they said.
While the e-bookstore, also named 2Dfacto, will allow only DoCoMo users to read e-books on some of DoCoMo’s smart phones and e-reader for now, DoCoMo said it is possible that the service may be available on other carriers’ devices in the future, as it wants the service to be open to many potential customers.
DoCoMo, Japan’s biggest mobile carrier, is entering the e-book market just as competition is intensifying as Sony Corp. and Sharp Corp. recently released e-book readers and other mobile carriers and book-related firms launched e-bookstores.
“I think it is very possible to differentiate our service from others by linking the e-bookstores’ and physical bookstores’ services together,” said Takehiko Ogi, president of 2Dfacto.
During the news conference in Tokyo’s Roppongi district, the three firms repeatedly stressed their aim to realize a “hybrid” bookstore, meaning services will involve both real bookstores and e-bookstore.
Ogi said planned hybrid services this year include a points system for clients who use both the real and the e-bookstores, a recommendation service based on customer purchase histories at bookstores, and a unified book search service for online, e-book and physical stores utilizing an ID card that can be used for all three systems.
Ogi said such a service can be achieved through DoCoMo’s mobile technology and business knowhow as well as Dai Nippon group’s network with publishing companies and bookstores. Dai Nippon’s subsidiary, CHI Group Co., runs major bookstores like Maruzen and Junku Do.
The e-bookstore plans to sell many of its contents at prices about 10 to 20 percent cheaper than physical books.
The service will not have any English titles for now.