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Japan and eBooks

January 30th, 2010

This reporter makes an interesting observation I hadn’t thought of before: Japanese people don’t do ebooks. You just don’t see them here. And the idea is that it’s not because they just haven’t arrived, but rather that Japanese people are not really that interested in them. From what I can gather, Japanese do read quite a lot (though not as much as 30 years ago), but most ebook reading is done on a cell phone. What drives most ebook reader sales in Japan is obvious–I knew even before I looked it up that manga would be what drives the ebook reader market. They come out often, and come in thick tomes that resemble gaudy, small-format telephone books. The bulk, graphic format, and large number of constant releases would make manga a natural ebook target.

So people do read ebooks here. And from what I found from a quick search, the market is taking off–it just hasn’t developed nearly as much here as it has in America. So the question is, will the iPad change that. The answer might be similar to what we saw with the iPod, then the iPod Touch, and then the iPhone: an initial lukewarm reaction, everybody says that Japanese people aren’t interested… and then a few years later, you start seeing them everywhere.

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