I wrote a few weeks back about how with 100 million users, Line is the Japanese Facebook. The popular mobile application is far more than just a chat app, it is now a platform that was built by adding Line Channel back in July of 2012, a place where users can enjoy games, fortune-telling, and even discount coupons.
And today Line Corporation added yet another feature to its repertoire: Line Manga. Yes, the company is entering the mobile e-book business, both on iOS and Android. Major publishers such as Shueisha, Shogakukan, and Kodansha have already joined Line Manga with over 30,000 comics available, which can be bought using Line’s vitual currency Line Coin. One popular comic Uchu Kyodai (roughly translated as Space Brothers) is available, and anyone who downloads the comic can redeem exclusive Uchu Kyodai stamps. The first 10 pages of many of the comics can be read for free.
Line Manga leverages on Line’s core features allowing users to share their favorite comic on the Line timeline. There’s a campaign running until April 22nd, and anyone who shares their favorite comic on Line can get 10 Line Coins per share (a day), and for the first purchase of coins, users will receive 500 bonus coins. Another campaign running until May 6th (Golden Week), one volume of top 100 comic titles can be bought for half price.
The e-book industry in Japan already has big players like Rakuten’s Kobo and Amazon’s Kindle. But if anyone is going to succeed in the e-book business, Line certainly has the potential to do so. Japan’s 40% smartphone penetration rate continues to grow and over 45 million people in the country have downloaded the Line app, making it near ubiquitous among smartphone owners.
Mobile device and e-books are a good match in Japan, going back to Keitai Shosetu, or novels read on mobile. Back in 2006 to 2007 when feature phones were still dominant, these written-on-mobile novels were super popular, especially among young girls. It was sort of like blogging a novel. Some were so successful that they were made into actual books.
So for many people in Japan, reading casual manga on the Line app is not going to be an entirely new experience.
For more information on the growth of Line and its vast repertoire of apps, including Line Manga, please check out our interactive Line Timeline which chronicles its growth from its launch back in 2011 up until the present day.