On The Digital Reader, Nate Hoffelder discusses Rakuten’s response to those who noticed it has chosen to hide all consumer reviews of its Kobo Touch e-reader from Japan. Rakuten claims that a version of its site and service leaked before the actual launch date, so the reviews were of a product that was not actually meant to be reviewed yet.
However, Hoffelder points out that this doesn’t explain all the problems brought up in the poor reviews, such as Rakuten launching with less than 2/3 of the Japanese-language titles it promised to have available, or overall poor customer service from the company.
E-books have had a rocky history in Japan, culminating in the Japanese getting so fed up with waiting for someone to do them right that they started jisui companies to create their own e-books. It doesn’t look like the road has gotten any less rocky with this not-so-smooth move by Rakuten. It seems to be giving Amazon an awfully low bar to jump over when it launches the Kindle there later this year.