Rakuten to sell e-readers in stores

Kyodo

Rakuten Inc. will start selling its Kobo electronic book readers in bookstores in eastern and central Japan on Friday, an executive of the major online shopping mall operator said.

Hiroyuki Nagai, a Rakuten operating officer, said the company has agreed with bookstore operator Top Culture Co. in Niigata to sell the readers, including the new Kobo Glo model priced at ¥7,980, at nine outlets.

The readers, made by a Canadian e-book marketer that is a Rakuten subsidiary, have been sold online and at electric appliance retailers.

“We will provide bookstore visitors who love reading with the option of electronic books, in addition to conventional paper books,” Nagai said.

He said the entire book market, including e-books and paper books, is expected to expand as the number of extensive readers will likely increase with the spread of the handy devices that make book purchases easy.

Nagai said Rakuten prioritizes making e-book services familiar to consumers in Japan, rather than competing with rival e-book marketers such as U.S. online retail giant Amazon.com Inc., saying the Japanese electronic book market is still “in the initial stage.”