Japanese manga and light novel publisher Kadokawa is launching BookWalker, its eBook retailer, in English in October. The online store will carry not only Kadokawa products, but also manga and prose books from other publishers, the company said.
In Japan, BookWalker is the largest retailer of light novel eBooks and also retails eBook manga, with annual sales of $75.4 million. It offers over 200,000 titles from 600 publishers.
The company’s English language website, and iOS and Android apps, will launch on October 8. Initially the company will offer over 700 English titles, with more to be added later from publishers including Viz, Dark Horse, Digital Manga, Creek & River, Cork, Futabasha, and Harlequin. As a subsidiary of Kadokawa, BookWalker will differentiate by offering free manga, giveaways of limited edition booklets, autographed manga, and exclusive limited edition illustrations.
Kadokawa manga, including Neon Genesis Evangelion, Mobile Suit Gundam, and Sword Art Online, among others, are published in the U.S. by Viz Media, Dark Horse Comics, and Vertical Comics.
BookWalker has big ambitions for its English language store. “Get ready for these new and exciting changes to BookWalker, as we create a one-of-a-kind eBook store where fans can find all of their favorite comics, novels, and magazines, in one spot, direct from Japan,” BookWalker President Yoichi Yasumoto said.
There’s already a lot of activity in the digital manga space, with Viz, Dark Horse, and Kodansha all operating their own English language digital manga stores, and comiXology offering Viz, Dark Horse, and most recently Kodansha (see “Kodansha Comics Now on ComiXology”) titles. Digital manga are also available on the Kindle platform, and from Apple’s iBooks store.