Japanese Retailer Rakuten To Launch The Kobo eReader, Localized Content

The Kobo eReader is about to invade Japan. Following Rakuten’s purchase of the Canadian eReader company, the Japanese online retail giant announced the eReader’s launch plans this morning. The Kobo eReader hits the retailer’s interwebs on July 17th for ¥7,980 including tax (or $100 USD). The device is completely retooled for the Japanese populace and launches with a large assortment of ePub 3.0 Japanese titles, including novels and comic books.

Rakuten hopes to start an eReading revolution in Japan. As CEO Hiroshi Mikitani pointed out today, reading in Japan is declining and he hopes the Kobo will in part slow this trend. But Amazon is said to be eyeing the largely untapped market of Nippon, too. Rakuten purchased the Canadian-based Kobo late last year for $315 million, likely with the hope to corner the market before Amazon.

Rakuten clearly watched the Kindle’s growth and is following its proven strategy. Content purchased for the device will soon be available on iOS and Android apps. Kobo eReader demo units will be set up in retail locations, giving potential owners a chance to try it out before buying.

The device is available for pre-ordering starting today for ¥7,980. Rakuten also just launched Kobo’s localized Japanese experience at http://kobo.rakuten.co.jp.