Rakuten, Japan’s biggest interenet retailer has acquired an ebook firm, Kobo. It already sells another digital reader in Japan: the Raboo, which is made by Panasonic.
The $315m (£198m) acquisition is designed to help it become one of the biggest players in the ebook industry. The company also hopes to use Kobo and its popular book-themed social network to expand its other services. Rakuten operates travel, banking, e-commerce, sports and media divisions.
“We feel that an ebook reader will ultimately not be only about selling books,” Rakuten executive Pierre Kosciusko-Morizet told the BBC. “It’s about potentially selling other digital goods and it’s also about being in consumers’ homes with a hardware device.”
Kobo’s upcoming Vox reader is a seven-inch colour Android tablet. That offers its new owner an opportunity to sell other forms of media, setting it up as a rival to Amazon’s Kindle Fire.
It can also run Kobo’s book-based social network, which can be used to build brand loyalty. “Definitely the ebook market is not just for ebooks, it probably means going towards other stuff” said Mr Kosciusko-Morizet. “We think the price battle is going to be quite strong and so it’s even more important to be strong in that battle.”
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