Kinokuniya Co. revealed on Tuesday that they will be setting up online stores in Asia in order to catch up with online shops offering e-books. Although they already have brick and mortar branches in some countries in Southeast Asia like Singapore and Taiwan, the biggest bookstore chain in Japan aims to make a move ahead of Amazon in the region by setting up their online business.
Besides the islands mentioned, Kinokuniya also has branches in Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand, and the United Arab Emirates. “Utilizing our many years of experiences in those countries [as a conventional bookstore], we will make a move [ahead of Amazon.com],” said Masashi Takai, President of Kinokuniya. Takai also believes that if they don’t make the move now, they could lose the business in Southeast Asia, and that will sound the death knell for the company. They are planning to sell physical books as well as ebooks written in English, Japanese, Chinese and other local languages.
Founded in 1927, Kinokuniya means “Store of Kii Province.” It opened its online business in 1996 but its annual 5,000-yen membership fee caused the bookstore to lose to Amazon, which requires no registration fee. Takai said they learned from that mistake and will use those learnings as they set up the new business in Asia. Amazon may already be operating in 11 countries but Kinokuniya can seize the Asian market as Amazon only operates in three Asian countries – China, India, and Japan.
[via The Asahi Shimbun]