June 13, 2018
  • Rakuten, Inc.

Rakuten Reaches Agreement with Kobe City regarding Rakuten OverDrive Digital Library Service

- Kobe City to adopt the digital library service on a trial basis from June 22 -

Tokyo, June 13, 2018 - Rakuten, Inc. and Kobe City, Hyogo Prefecture, have concluded an agreement related to Rakuten OverDrive, a digital library service offered by the Rakuten Group. Based on the agreement, Kobe City will adopt the Rakuten OverDrive digital library service for the first time on a trial basis.

The adoption of the digital library service will allow residents of Kobe City to use the service at every municipal library in Kobe City (Central Library, nine local libraries, and the Kita Library Hokushin Branch) from June 22. IDs and passwords for the digital library will be issued over the counter of the Kobe City municipal libraries to library card holders. Users will then be able to borrow eBook content at any time and place on their tablet, smartphone or PC. Initially, users will be able to borrow approximately 1,000 Japanese language eBook titles, approximately 500 English language eBook titles, and approximately 10,000 titles from Aozora Bunko*1, and during the two-year trial period this will be increased to about 13,000 titles. The adoption of the Rakuten OverDrive digital library service in Kobe City will allow library users to enjoy reading without having to go to the library, thus improving convenience. In addition, as many English language eBooks are equipped with a “read-along” feature, it is expected to increase the number of opportunities residents’ have to enjoy English.

Rakuten OverDrive is a digital library service offered by US-based OverDrive, Inc., a subsidiary of Rakuten. Digital library services are popular in the United States, and according to statistics from Statista*2, in 2014, the share of public libraries offering eBooks in the United States surpassed 90%. However, according to the results of a survey*3 released by the Association for E-publishing Business Solution, as of 2016 only 3.9% of public libraries in Japan have adopted eBook lending services, suggesting that the adoption of digital libraries is still in its early stages in Japan. Given this, the agreement between Rakuten and Kobe City will serve as a major step towards promoting the adoption of digital libraries at Japan’s public libraries.

The adoption of the Rakuten OverDrive digital library service in Kobe City will make it possible for residents of the city to access eBook content even if they live far away from a library without having to travel to one. In addition, as tasks such as reservations, lending and returns are carried out over the internet, time spent by libraries on operation and management can be reduced. At the same time, as the service removes the need for space to store physical paper books, libraries can enjoy the advantage of reduced storage space and storage costs.

Going forward, Rakuten will work together with Kobe City to provide even better services for the residents partnering both real libraries and digital libraries.

*1. Aozora Bunko is a digital library in which works whose copyrights have expired and books that have been made available for everyone to read freely are digitized and made available over the internet.

*2. Statistics from the statistics firm Statista, which has its head offices in Hamburg, Germany
“Share of public libraries offering e-books in the United States in 2014, by locale code”

*3. Association for E-publishing Business Solution 
2016 Survey Report on Digital Library / eBook Lending Services (released November 2, 2016)

About Rakuten OverDrive
The Rakuten Group’s US-based OverDrive Inc. provides digital library services to more than 40,000 public libraries and school libraries in 70 countries worldwide. OverDrive’s digital library system has been adopted at more than 90% of the libraries in the United States, and the number of libraries adopting it continues to rise year by year. Available content includes more than 3 million titles in over 100 languages, of which it offers more than 1.6 million pieces of content, including Japanese books, at digital libraries in Japan.

*Please note that the information contained in press releases is current as of the date of release.

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