Japanese e-readers to hit the market

Featured - July 4th, 2012

Japanese companies will launch their own e-book readers this month, as forecasts for spending in the e-book market look set to reach billions of yen.

Rakuten Inc. will debut its new e-book reader this month. The Kobo Touch reader will be sold at 7,980 yen ($100), half the price of major competitors machines, such as that of Sony Corp. which sells its e-reader at 16,800 yen. CEO Hiroshi Mikitani told Asahi Shimbun, “we set the price so that people could easily buy it as a way of expanding the market”. The Kobo reader is 1-cm thick, weighs 185 grams and has built-in WiFi to purchase 30,000 Japanese titles. Rakuten plans to offer up to 1.5 million titles. The books can also be bought through smartphones and tablet computers.

Toppan Printing Co. will also launch its e-book reader by this fall priced at 7,000 yen, according to The Nikkei. The e-book reader weighs almost the same as the Kobo Touch with a 6-inch black-and-white LCD, while other features are still being worked on. The device will be offered through BookLive Co. at bookstores instead of electronics retailers.

Amazon is also preparing to launch a Japanese-language Kindle reader, the Asahi Shimbun reports. Research company Impress R&D predicts that the e-book market will reach 94 billion yen with the growing demand for manga and literary works underlining the number of Japanese bookworms. Japan spends $23.5 billion on books annually, according to AFP.