One After Another, Internet Companies Enter the "Paper" World of Books


In the midst of a serious crisis for the publishing industry, internet companies have begun to enter the world of printed books. A variety of internet services and websites have launched their own publishing imprints and departments as part of this shift. While the rise of “magazine separation” caused by smartphone proliferation has led to traditional publishing companies’ profits in 2018 being half that of their peak in 1996, the advantages of books as a medium of information compared to smartphones has drawn the attention of internet companies.

LINE Bunko and LINE Bunko Edge are the first publishing for LINE, with nine novels published by August 2019. Their aim is to publish between six to ten novels each month, including popular works published on LINE Novel by writers such as Maha Harada and Kō Nakamura. An advertising director at LINE stated “We want to increase the choices available to readers, allowing them to pick out a reading format that appeals most to them.”

HuffPost Japan has partnered with publishing company Discover 21 to launch HuffPost Books, with the core of their publications being articles edited into a book format. The hope is that by stacking books with the site’s logo in bookstore shelves all across Japan, it will draw attention to HuffPost Japan’s website from potential readers outside of their core demographic of Tokyo.

Internet companies are now exploring ways to combine digital and physical sales, such as by hosting events aimed at readers who buy their books. Masaharu Kubo, a researcher at the Shuppan Kagaku Kenkyūjo (Institute for research in publishing) says that “publication of paper books allows internet media companies to connect with new potential customers. There is the possibility that stimulation from other industries may lead to a change in traditional editing and sales techniques for books.”