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Square Enix launching English-language ebook distribution of manga in April

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Square Enix is partnering with publisher Hachnette Book Group's graphic novel arm Yen Press to internationally distribute English language versions of the former company's manga properties in ebook form, the companies announced today.

The initiative will launch on April 8 and grant readers access to 175 ebook titles through Amazon, the Apple App Store, Barnes and Noble, Google and Kobo. New volumes in these series will be available through these services as they are released in the future.

The first titles to launch through the service include Yana Toboso's Black Butler, Atsushi Ohkubo's Soul Eater and Yoshiki Tonogai's Doubt. Titles slated to roll out through April include Fullmetal Alchemist by Hiromu Arakawa, Higurashi When They Cry by Ryukishi07 and Hiroshi Takashige and Double-S's Until Death Do Us Part. These ebook editions will also feature color pages not available in the print versions.

The partnership has also made possible the serialization of chapters previously unreleased in English for two series: Atsushi Ohkubo's Soul Eater Not! and Yoshiki Tonogai thriller Secret. These sections will be released ahead of the next round of new chapters for these titles.

"In much the same way that video streaming technologies transformed the way fans consume anime, the digital availability of manga content stands to revolutionize readers' access to the material they love," said Yen Press vice president and publishing director Kurt Hassler in a press statement. "Particularly exciting to us is the opportunity Square Enix has provided international audiences to enjoy and support the latest installments of continuing series at the same time as Japanese fans.

"Manga has a truly global community of enthusiasts, and Yen Press could not be prouder to help connect these brilliant creators with the worldwide readership clamoring for their work," he added.