DIY Digital Libraries and E-book Demand in Japan

In Global Trade Talk by Helen Gregg

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By Helen Gregg

Yesterday, BusinessWeek reported on how many Japanese are embracing the iPad and other tablet computers as a space-saving replacement for their print library. Japan’s notoriously small living spaces –- the average single family home in Japan is half the size of the US average -– and the introduction of the iPad last April have caused many to digitize their large print libraries to be read on the compact new tablets.

While some have done the digitizing themselves, many others have turned to the many book-scanning services that have sprung up. Japanese company BookScan was founded in April 2010 to capitalize on the demand for electronic files of customers’ favorite titles. For 100 yen (about $1.19), the company will create a PDF of any book, complete with any original highlighting or notes. Currently, the company has a four-month waiting list.

This rise in book scanning strongly suggests a mostly untapped market for e-books in Japan. Although the Japanese e-book market grew 23.7% in 2009, the market does not seem to yet be keeping up with customer demand.

About the Author

Helen Gregg