By Emily Williams
Japan’s e-book market, which has been strong on the manga side and for user-created content but nearly non-existent when it comes to traditional prose books, looks like it’s preparing to expand. Last week saw the announcement of a new e-book platform under development from NTT DOCOMO, the country’s largest mobile operator, and Dai Nippon Printing, a large printing company that also operates an online bookseller, bk1, and several brick and mortar bookselling retail chains.
This move follows the formation in March, by 31 Japanese publishers, of the Electronic Publishers Association of Japan, for the purpose of studying royalty rates and format issues and expanding the e-book market for trade books (here’s a skeptical take). And in May, an earlier joint venture teamed Sony (which has a book publishing arm in addition to its massive tech side and e-reader business) with Toppan Printing, big newspaper publisher Asahi Shimbun, and teleco KDDI to develop their own e-book distribution platform.
Both e-book platforms are backed by the major Japanese publishing houses, who in turn are working on the content end through their consortium. If publishers can find a profitable way to tap into the clear and growing market for mobile reading, it could be a boon for a book market that has fallen way off its mid-90s peak and shows no sign of rebounding.
Photo: World Public Library