September 29, 2009
An e-book through cell phones revolutionarily change the publishing world
|The U.S. e-book content market is rapidly growing due to the success of the Kindle, a portable device for reading electronic books introduced by Amazon. The Japan e-book market; however, goes a step further. According to the Association of American Publishers, in 2008 the U.S. e-book market was a 113 million dollar industry, while in Japan it was 46 billion yen (research provided by Impress R&D). Japan’s e-book market is 4 times larger than that of the United States. Furthermore, this amount is the sum of sales of charged e-books and doesn’t include free websites that launched many “mobile phone novels” like Koizora. Taking this into account, the scale of Japan’s e-book market stretches far beyond its tangible figure.
In 2002, Japan’s e-book market was only 1 billion yen in 2002. Content could be accessed only through PC’s at the time, but the flat-rate packet charge system for the use of cell phones introduced in 2003 triggered the rapid popularization of e-books for cell phones. Now e-book means the digital book can be delivered to cell phones in Japan.
When taking a look at the breakdown it appears that comics constitute a majority (82%) of users of cell phones, while it is fairly balanced among comics, light literature and photo books (33%, 39% and 28% respectively) for PC’s.
PAPYLESS is the largest e-book content company in Japan, with a lineup of 120,000 or more for both cell phone and PC. They say the conventional content such as novels and how-to books still surpass comics in terms of the number of titles. NHK foreign language textbooks are also popular due to the unique characteristics to digital content like audio playback in English and the dictionary function.
In the coming of age of e-books, a new movement among cell phone carriers has recently been introduced. KDDI, one of the major mobile phone carriers in Japan, launched their new model of cell phones in June 2009, which was developed on the assumption that their customers will read e-books via their cell phone. The cell phone slides to the side to open it, which gives the appearance as if you are reading an actual book, and is equipped with an enlarged 3.5-inch screen for the convenience of reading small characters.