The Japanese paper Asahi Shimbun reports that Rakuten, the Japanese company that bought Canadian outfit Kobo, is going to try to beat Amazon to market in Japan by introducing the Kobo Touch there in July before Amazon is able to bring out its Kindle Touch there later this year.

"As a Japanese company, we cannot lose (to overseas rivals)," [Rakuten chairman and CEO Hiroshi] Mikitani told The Asahi Shimbun. "With Kobo devices, we will be able to export Japanese content. The Japanese publishing industry will become a huge content industry."

There may be just a touch of irony in that given that Rakuten is going to sell its e-books to Japanese citizens from overseas in order to avoid higher Japanese sales taxes.

The Kobo Touch will retail for 10,000 yen (just under $125)—a bit higher than its $100 or $80 with Offers price in the US, but not bad considering Japan’s higher cost of living. Rakuten expects to have 50,000 e-book titles available by the end of the year. (Found via The Verge and Engadget.)

Japan’s e-book market has had notable trouble taking off up to this point, with Japanese consumers getting so fed up with the commercial failures they started doing it themselves through jisui companies. I wonder if Rakuten and Amazon can turn it around at last?


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