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To Boost Apple's Book App in S. Korea, Apple tapped into the Web Comics Company Kenaz

1 cover KENAZ

A new report claims that Apple is betting on Korean web comics to give their Books appa a jolt of life. The company signed a three-year exclusive contract with South Korean startup Kenaz in December to supply online comics known as webtoons. The new content was rolled out in Japan last month and will expand to cover all 51 countries where Books is available, according to the firm. The value of the deal was not disclosed.

Webtoons are Korea’s favorite way of consuming digital comics and provide the inspiration for many of the country’s global hits from dark zombie comedy All of Us Are Dead to monster epic Sweet Home. The format, which has users scrolling through full-color, super-short episodes on their phones or PCs, has been around for decades. Unlike conventional manga or comic books, authors draw webtoons accounting for how much screen space is created by a single scroll-down on a device. In Japan, the genre is known as “tate-yomi-manga,” or vertically-read-manga.

"North America doesn’t really have a significant lead player in webtoons yet," Woody Lee, the founder and chief executive of Kenaz, said. "Apple Books has a chance at becoming a competitive player in this field pretty quickly."

2 Kenaz Webtoon IP Holder
Global interest in Korean entertainment has exploded in recent years with the rise of series like Squid Game and the Academy Award-winning film Parasite. The Motion Picture Association of America organized a summit of Hollywood executives in Washington last month to take advantage of Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol’s visit to the US and discuss collaboration.

It’s been a while since Apple last introduced a new service to its Books app, which has not benefited from the massive investment that other services like Apple Music and Apple TV have gotten. Apple studied webtoons as a potential addition to its portfolio for more than two years before getting involved in detailed discussions with Kenaz, Lee said. For more, read the full Bloomberg report.

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