Over at The Digital Reader, Nate Hoffelder has coverage of the Kobo Touch’s launch in Japan, which seems to have turned into something of a debacle. Bad reviews of the device were posted so prevalently to Rakuten’s website that it finally removed all reviews, both good and bad, from its site. Customers reported problems with buggy desktop software, lack of availability of Japanese titles, and unresponsive touchscreens.

Nate writes:

Folks, they took the reviews down from the website so new customers wouldn’t be warned about the many problems. I want you to look past the fact they did it and think about how customers will feel once they discover the deception. That is what will make this a major debacle and not merely an embarrassment for Rakuten.

A bad launch could be recovered from. This is closer to being a systematic effort to lie to their customers. Okay, eventually people will forgive Rakuten, but in the short run this debacle could drive readers to Amazon.

Speaking of Amazon, this puts me in mind of the way Jeff Bezos has absolutely refused to disallow negative reviews there, for the simple reason that having a broad spectrum of reviews of all kinds means consumers will place more trust in the store as a whole.

Looks like Kobo may not be quite so big in Japan after all. (More coverage at Techdirt.)