Official Press Release:
Debuting at NY Comic-Con 2015: BOOK☆WALKER KADOKAWA’s Online Store for Manga & Light Novels direct from Japan SEPTEMBER 24, 2015 – Kadokawa, one of Japan’s largest media, entertainment, and publishing companies is launching an English language version of BookWalker, their eBook online store in Fall 2015. Promotions will kick off at New York Comic-Con 2015, along with the addition of over 700 comic and prose titles in English – many exclusive to BookWalker. Starting on October 8, 2015, readers around the world can check out the redesigned BookWalker website at http://global.bookwalker.jp/ and download updated versions of the BookWalker apps for iOS and Android mobile devices on the Apple App store and Google Play.
BOOK☆WALKER AT NEW YORK COMIC-CON: New York Comic-Con attendees will be able to take BookWalker for a test drive at the BookWalker booth at NYCC (#854), or try it out on their smartphones, tablets or personal computers. Visitors to the BookWalker booth at NYCC who show the signed in BookWalker account on their phones or tablets will get a chance to win prizes. Everyone will receive an $8 BookWalker gift card, which can be used to buy almost any manga or light novel on BookWalker.
So, will this be a big deal? I don’t know…yet. Here’s the part that is of most interest to me:
BookWalker [is] gearing up to be the premier destination for manga, novels, books and magazines in both English and Japanese from Japanese and American publishers, including VIZ Media, Dark Horse Comics, Digital Manga, Creek & River, Cork, Futabasha, and Harlequin, with more to be added soon
Reading into press releases is a sucker’s game, but there are couple of things of note here:
The platform will be in English. I have used ComicWalker, but only in Japanese. And I’ve only read samples, not purchased anything. It works. I’m not blown away, but it works and the built-in reader is does not require a download and is pretty easy to figure out. Obviously, as soon as I can I will try it out and report back.
Offerings are from multiple publishers. This is good, and it is problematic. There is a war on for your digital manga dollars right now – Amazon recently sucked up Comixology to make sure they win it. Crunchyroll is still hanging on to a small corner, but will a Japanese publisher have an edge by offering a selection you can’t get anywhere else? This remains to be seen. It appears that they will have the same publishers already accessible on Comixology. So, you get to give your money to an American conglomerate or a Japanese one, for access to the same content. Neither site charges for access, just for purchase, so it’s a coin toss on the money side.
One the Japanese content side, Kadokawa is the winner hands-down of marketing the living daylights out of their IP, and they own many or are part of a joint venture with many of the most popular anime franchises. They do a lot of anime based on Light Novels, (like the Suzumiya Haruhi and Sword Art Online franchises) so there will definitely be a lot of popular content on the site. Their inital JP additional publisher, Futabasha has a metric ton of stuff licensed here by a bunch of distributors, they seem to be the only other publisher not afraid to spread their IP around. And they have some of the artists you like.
This could be a very good thing for Yuri fans, if the Global site is tied in with existing Japanese content. Ichijinsha is already offering a number of their Comic Yuri manga in digital format, even older, out-of-print titles. And Shinsokan has at least some of their their Hirari books. The problem is that Global Walker was historically not tied in to their Japanese site and only had Japanese content that had been licensed out. I don’t know if this is going to work for us, but I’m keeping my fingers crossed and have asked Kadokawa for some of their time at NYCC. We’ll see how it goes. Keep an eye on this space for follow-ups!