Tokyo, Japan – October 8, 2014 – Kodansha Ltd. (headquartered in Bunkyo Ward, Tokyo; led by CEO Yoshinobu Noma; referred to as “Kodansha” below), Shogakukan Inc. (headquartered in Chiyoda Ward, Tokyo; led by CEO Masahiro Oga; referred to as “Shogakukan” below), Media Do Co., Ltd (headquartered in Shibuya Ward, Tokyo; led by CEO Yasushi Fujita; referred to as “Media Do” below), and LINE Corporation (headquartered in Shibuya Ward; led by CEO Akira Morikawa; referred to as “LINE” below) today announced that Kodansha, Shogakukan, and Media Do will be entering into a capital and business alliance with LINE Book Distribution Corporation, LINE’s consolidated subsidiary for the promotion of the global expansion of digital content distribution with a focus on comics. This alliance makes LINE Book Distribution a joint venture among the four companies.
Background and Goals
LINE Manga was launched in April 2013 as an online comic platform targeted at the domestic market. It now carries over 80,000 titles across various genres thanks to the over 50 publishers and labels that provide the content delivered by the service, including major players in the industry. By linking up with LINE, users have the opportunity to discover new content through communication. This has also contributed to LINE Manga’s growth into one of the largest smartphone-based comic platforms in Japan with over 8 million accumulated downloads.
Meanwhile, even though markets in many countries around the world, especially in Asia, have a high demand for Japan’s unique manga culture, the lack of platforms offering digital content on a global scale has been a barrier to acquiring this content legally, and pirated versions continue to flourish. Japanese publishers have had difficulty expanding overseas both in terms of capital and human resources despite the market needs for their content.
LINE Book Distribution will consolidate the strengths of each of the partners to provide the global version of LINE Manga, namely
1. LINE’s expertise in developing and managing the LINE Manga service domestically, and its immense user base in Asia and globally
2. Kodansha and Shogakukan’s wide range of popular content
3. Content mediated by Media Do, and its safe and secure digital content distribution system.
The global version of LINE Manga will promote the distribution of quality Japanese content towards the world market. LINE Manga will not only be a new way for users around the world to come in contact with digital content, but will also propose new ways to enjoy manga in the smartphone era in order to further stimulate the Japanese manga market.
The service is scheduled for release this year. Content acquired from Kodansha, Shogakukan, and other domestic publishers and labels will first be offered in English and Traditional Chinese. More details will be available at the time of service launch.
Overview of New Company
Company name: LINE Book Distribution Corporation
Headquarters: 27F Shibuya Hikarie, 2-21-1 Shibuya, Shibuya Ward, Tokyo
Capital: JPY 300 million (including capital reserves)
Board of Directors:
Chief Executive Officer Jun Masuda (CSMO, LINE Corporation)
Director Yutaka Onishi (Director Head of Digital Business, Shogakukan Inc.)
Director Osamu Yoshiba (Head of International Business and Digital Business, Kodansha Ltd.)
Director Atsushi Mizoguchi (Director and Senior General Manager of Operations, Media Do Co., Ltd.)
Director Takeshi Idezawa (COO, LINE Corporation)
Director Kenichi Tanaka (Senior Manager, Finance & Accounting Department, LINE Corporation)
Director Hiroshi Mori (Senior Manager, LINE Contents Business Department, LINE Corporation)
Auditor Osamu Yamamoto (Director, Senior Manager, Management Planning Department, and General Manager of Management, Media Do Co., Ltd.)
Auditor Noritaka Ochiai (Executive Officer, LINE Corporation)
Business description: Operation of global version of LINE Manga, distribution of digital content, etc.
Shareholders: Kodansha, LINE, Media Do, and Shogakukan (in alphabetical order)
Service name: LINE Manga Global Version
Languages: English and Traditional Chinese (at time of launch)
Release date: This year