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Business

Rakuten rolls out Taiwanese e-book service

TAIPEI -- Japanese e-commerce giant Rakuten has partnered with 12 major Taiwanese publishers to distribute Chinese-language e-books, aiming to tap demand among the global Chinese population as well as draw more Taiwanese users into its broader service network.

Rakuten's Kobo service offers e-books in local languages in 20 markets. Taiwan is the first Asian market to join the list. The e-books will be available on Rakuten's global store, making them accessible to users in some 190 markets.

Rakuten Chairman and CEO Hiroshi Mikitani

"I am delighted to see another great Rakuten service launch in Taiwan, one of our most important international markets," Chairman and CEO Hiroshi Mikitani said in Chinese at a news conference here Thursday.

The lineup spans thousands of titles, including novels by popular Taiwanese authors, business books, and foreign works translated into Chinese. The company hopes that the service will be used "not just in Taiwan, but by everyone around the world who can read traditional Chinese characters," a spokesperson said.

Rakuten is scrambling to revamp its overseas business, tailoring its approach to individual markets. It said in February that e-commerce operations would be scaled back in fiercely competitive Southeast Asian countries. The company shut down online marketplaces in Indonesia and Singapore, where it plans to focus on a flea market app letting users buy and sell used goods.

Rakuten entered Taiwan comparatively early, in 2008. Taiwan is the only market outside Japan where the company has built an "ecosystem" of diverse services, including credit cards and travel booking. Rakuten is widening this net with the expanded e-book service, seeking to boost other services in the network.

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