japan.jpgAgence France Presse is reporting that Japan’s top publishers have formed an alliance to deal with the growing ebook market. It will be called the Electronic Book Publishers Association of Japan and have 31 members. It will discuss formats for ebooks, legal issues and analyze the market.

The report says that the ebook market in Japan is about 500 million dollars, mostly in the form of content on mobile telephones and computers. Ereaders haven’t taken off yet. Amazon sells the Kindle in Japan but has no Japanese-language content.

Isn’t it great to live in a land where anti-trust laws are never enforced! More info here.


  1. Ben,

    Since 50’s the Japanese book/manga industry is treated differently and is exempt from local anti-trust laws. So every title is literally price-fixed by publishers and retailers have no pricing control. This new ebook association is extension of that publishers’ cartel.

  2. As Nickey-D says, booksellers are legally mandated to sells books at fixed prices under something called the Resale Price Maintenance System. Many people in Japan support RPMS because it (supposedly) keeps books reasonably priced and easily available. There are valid arguments both for and against in the Japanese context, but it’s nowhere near the flashpoint that it is in Western countries. For cheaper reads, people just head off to their local Book-Off chain store (917 nationally) for a “new” used book.

    There are some people doing some interesting things with e-book mangas, but traditional Japanese publishers are way, way, way, way behind the game. Given the peculiarities of Japanese publishing and the old-school boys’ network that runs the show (have a look at

    for a pic of the association’s founding members), it will be a pretty toothless organization for the forseeable future.

  3. Ah, I see now. I had no idea publishing in Japan was like that. Of course, other than a cookbook, I haven’t bought any books in Japan despite living here for 3 years. (Being mostly unable to read Japanese might have something to do with it =P ).

    However, despite being “behind the times”, ‘ebooks’ on cell phones have been pretty popular here, particularly with younger folks. I think that was happening here before ebooks really took off in North America and Europe.

    I do hope this Japanese publishing organization decides to go with epub. However, epub’s lack of vertical text layout (text organized into columns instead of rows) could be a problem for Japan (and China too).

  4. Ben,

    Glad I could offer some clarification. The ebook cell novel thing is really interesting, so hopefully publishers will do more interesting things there. Serializations are still pretty popular in Japan, which is kind of nice.

    I found an interesting link about e-book publishing in Japan at http://www.ndl.go.jp/en/publication/ndl_newsletter/169/691.html (didn’t know that some libraries offer cell-phone novels…I’ll have to check that out) if anyone is interested.

The TeleRead community values your civil and thoughtful comments. We use a cache, so expect a delay. Problems? E-mail newteleread@gmail.com.