Ridibooks, which claims to be South Korea’s largest e-book vendor, announced that it has raised a $8 million Series B to improve its user experience and reach new customers. Investors include NeoPlux, which led the round, Company K, Mirae Asset Venture Investment, and Atinum Investment.
The startup was founded in 2009 and says it now has 2 million users, while more than 32 million e-books have been downloaded using its platform.
While South Korea is one of the top 10 book markets in the world based on market volume, digital books still account for just three to five percent of the total market.
But Ridibooks is excited about its growth opportunity thanks to South Korea’s especially high rate of mobile penetration. The company says that the South Korean book market is currently worth about $3.2 billion in revenue per year, and that amount is expected to grow 30 percent over the next few years.
Ridibooks’ main competitors include Kyobo Books and Yes24, which are the two biggest bookstore chains and sell print books as well as e-books on their websites. Founder Kisik Bae says Ridibooks sets itself apart by being “an IT company with strength in software and digital content development,” while its two main rivals are more focused on retail operations.
Furthermore, Kyobo Books and Yes24 have to contend with pricing regulations, which means that they currently cannot offer more than a 15 percent discount on books whether or not they are printed or digital. E-book prices, however, are set at 60 percent to 70 percent of printed book prices. This gives Ridibooks an edge because it doesn’t have to worry about its digital wares underselling the rest of its catalog.