June 25, 2018

Rakuten Reaches Agreement with Osaka City Regarding Rakuten OverDrive Digital Library Service

- Osaka City to adopt the service on a trial basis from July 2 to nurture reading habits and enhance access to English education materials -

Tokyo, June 25, 2018 - Rakuten, Inc. and Osaka City Board of Education (hereafter Osaka City), have concluded an agreement related to Rakuten OverDrive, a digital library service offered by the Rakuten Group. Based on the agreement, Osaka City will adopt the Rakuten OverDrive digital library service on a trial basis from July 2, 2018 to May 31, 2020. Osaka City will be the 13th municipality in Japan to adopt the service in its public libraries.

Through the introduction of the digital library service, Osaka City library cardholders who receive a Rakuten OverDrive dedicated ID and password from the counter of any of the 24 municipal libraries in the city (all district libraries and the Nishi-ku Central Library) will be able to borrow eBook content at any time and access it on their tablet, smartphone or PC.

One of the strengths of Rakuten OverDrive is its rich lineup of more than 1.6 million foreign language titles. Osaka City plans to leverage this strength to develop reading habits utilizing IT and in English education and will introduce approximately 400 English-language picture books and storybooks for children, including approximately 150 titles that feature a “read-along” function. The titles with the “read-along” function are narrated by professional voice actors selected by the publisher, and the text is highlighted as it is being narrated, giving learners the opportunity to listen to native English while they read. Depending on the needs of the residents, Osaka City may increase the number of titles on offer during the trial period to 2,000. Rakuten and Osaka City will also hold a seminar to introduce local residents to the digital library service on July 22.

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*1, in 2014, the share of public libraries offering eBooks in the United States surpassed 90%. However, according to the results of a survey*2 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 Osaka City will serve as a major step towards promoting the adoption of digital libraries in Japan’s public libraries.

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

*1. 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”

 *2. 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 Rakuten works together with MediaDo by offering 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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