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Apple to launch iBookstore in Japan this month, reports say

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As 2013 begins, Apple seems to be wasting no time with its New Year’s plans. The company will reportedly roll out its iBookstore to Japanese Apple users this month, Japanese stock market index The Nikkei reports.

The computer design company has allegedly signed a number of Japanese publishers to be part of its electronic bookstore, according to The Digital Reader. These include names such as Kadokawa, Kodansha and Shogakukan among others. In addition, Apple reportedly has 80 titles from local publishers lined up for its iBookstore launch in Japan.

Apple already dominates the tablet market in Japan, with the iPad responsible for a whopping 60 percent of the total market share. The launch of Apple’s self-branded e-bookstore could push the iPad to gain traction in the e-reader market as well, snatching attention from competitors. This means that Apple will now join the likes of companies such as Google, Amazon, and Kobo, which have all seen success in the Japanese e-reader market thus far.

Amazon launched its Kindle Paperwhite e-reader in Japan in late October, and just two weeks later the online retail giant slashed the price of its newest Kindle. The Kindle Paperwhite debuted at 8,480 yen and was lowered to 7,890 yen in early November: a price drop of about six percent. This cost cut put Amazon’s Kindle Paperwhite in the same price range as Rakuten’s Kobo Glo, which was reduced to 7,980 yen just one week earlier. The same company also offered significant discounts on its other e-readers as well, such as the Kobo Mini and Kobo Touch, in an effort to keep its user base from switching to the Kindle.

We saw how competitors reacted to Amazon’s latest release in the Japanese e-reader market, and it will be interesting to see what happens when Apple introduces its own e-book offering to the country. This increased competition is expected to boost Japan’s entire electronic book market, which is currently valued at about 70 billion yen, according to estimations. This number is projected to jump to 200 billion yen in the next few years.

Since the iPad is already such a prominent device in Japan, it wouldn’t be surprising to see a dip in e-reader sales. Users can easily download any book offered in Apple’s store to their tablet without being require to purchase a dedicated reading device. 

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