Rakuten will be bringing the Kobo Touch e-Reader to Japan next month and it will be available for purchase for $126. Pre-orders for the device will start on July 2nd and this device will have custom Japanese firmware to handle all of the specific characters for their ebooks.
The Japanese ebook market is ripe for the pickings. Sony is the only big name company with any sort of presence and has many of the publishing companies on-board to contribute newspapers and ebooks into their ecosystem. Amazon intends on launching their line of Kindle readers into the market later this year. Hiroshi Mikitani, Rakuten chairman and CEO said “As a Japanese company, we cannot lose (to overseas rivals), with Kobo devices, we will be able to export Japanese content. The Japanese publishing industry will become a huge content industry.”
Rakuten expects to offer around 50,000 titles by the year’s end, about the same level as other ebook stores. The device will be available at Rakuten Ichiba online shopping mall and other major electronic retailers.