Mobile chat platform LINE has entered the e-book business in Japan with an app offering manga.
The app, called LINE Manga, was launched Tuesday for the Japanese market on both iOS and Android, noted news site Sd Japan. Major publishers such as Shueisha, Shogakukan, and Kodansha are already onboard offering over 30,000 comics, many of which allow users to read the first 10 pages for free.
The e-books can be bought using LINE's vitual currency, LINE Coin, which are sold in bundles such as US$1.99 for 100. As a guage, a copy of manga series Dragon Ball retails for 472 LINE coins.
LINE Manga will be linked to the core LINE messaging platform allowing users to share their favorite comic on their timeline, added Sd Japan. The service will join Amazon's Kindle Paperwhite and Rakuten's Kobo e-reader in the Japanese market.
The LINE chat platform was initially developed for users to make calls and send messages over the Web, after the 2011 earthquake in Japan damaged communication systems in the country. Since its release in June 2011, the app has evolved to include features such as games and discount coupons.
There are currently 130 million LINE users worldwide, with Japan topping the list of registered users with 45 million, and Thailand and Taiwan coming in second and third with 17 million and 15 million users, respectively.
Last week, Simeon Cho, general manager of LINE business office at NHN Corporation, told ZDNet the company was targeting three million downloads in Singapore within a year. Key to the approach was positioning the service as a "lifestyle" app instead of a utility one.