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March 19, 2015

Rakuten buys e-book company OverDrive

$410m purchase targeted towards expansion of services in the US.

By CBR Staff Writer

Japanese e-commerce giant Rakuten has agreed to acquire OverDrive for $410m to strengthen its position in the US market.

OverDrive is one of the leading eBook and audiobook content marketplaces in the US, which offers services to schools and US libraries.

Rakuten, which already has eBook and digital contents businesses, expects the deal to help its business expand with OverDrive’s 2.5 million titles, relationships with 5,000 publishers, and 30,000 libraries.

According to Rakuten global eBook business head Takahito Aiki Kobo, a Canadian eBook company Rakuten purchased in 2011 for $315m was "phase 1" of its eBook business, and OverDrive will form "phase 2" of its strategy allowing libraries and schools to rent eBooks.

Aiki added: "OverDrive is a widely-respected pioneer in digital content and the sharing economy. Long before even Kobo emerged onto the global stage, OverDrive had already seen the future and was working with publishers to digitise their content to share with the world, building one of the most comprehensive online digital marketplaces in the process.

"OverDrive’s deep content library and relationships with publishers, libraries, schools, and retailers will allow Rakuten to extend our mission of empowerment to new market segments and accelerate the growth of our digital contents businesses."

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