Korean Webtoons Come To Apple Books

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Apple are bringing Korean web comics to its Books app to give it a boost.

California-based firm The Cupertino signed a three-year exclusive contract in December with South Korean startup Kenaz in order to supply online comics such as webtoons. This content was originally rolled out in Japan last month, with plans to expand to all 51 countries where the Books app is available.

The value of the deal has not been disclosed.

Webtoons are hugely popular in Korea, becoming the favourite way to consume digital comics. They provided the inspiration for the country’s hits such as ‘All of Us Are Dead’ and ‘Sweet Home.’

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This format produces full colour and super-short episodes on phones and PCs. Authors create the webtoons based on how much screen space is available in a single scroll-down on a device.

Founder and Chief Executive of Kenaz, Woody Lee has said, “North America doesn’t really have a significant lead player in webtoons yet. Apple Books has a chance at becoming a competitive player in this field pretty quickly.”

Due to the rise of series such as ‘Squid Game’ and Academy Award-winner ‘Parasite,’ global interest has risen. The Motion Picture Association of America planned a summit of Hollywood executives, urging them to take advantage of Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol’s visit to discuss collaboration.

Last September, Books executives Kashif Zafar and Sasha Norkin flew to Seoul to discuss a Kenaz deal for three days.

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Apple Books has not had a new service released in a while, due to it not benefiting the way Apple Music and Apple TV have. Apple were studying webtoons for two years prior to its involvement with Kenaz.

Apple’s decision for webtoons follows Amazon’s move to launch a webtoons section on Kindle for Japanese users in March.

Apple expects roughly 30% of Kenaz’s webtoons to be published on Apple Books first. During its latest funding round, Kenaz was valued at approximately $65 million. Another funding round is planned later this year.

Kenaz have joined forces with David Franzoni, the writer of Hollywood blockbuster ‘Gladiator,’ to recreate the story as webtoon series. They are also working with French writer Bernard Werber to covert his ‘Ants’ trilogy to webtoons. This new service is planned for release in North America in the near future.

“There is just so much demand for original intellectual property content these days. The new hot topic in the content market is to identify a story IP with growth potential and create an entire value chain out of it.”

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