Posts Tagged ‘e-publishing’

Chapter 2 of e-readers in Japan

Wednesday, December 29th, 2010

Papyless offers e-book content for cell phones, PCs and Sony's new e-reader

Next year may finally see the e-book make the jump from cell-phone screen to rather more generous-sized e-reader displays. E-readers failed to catch on early in Japan, due to poor sales and limited available content, however, December sees KDDI, Sony and Sharp go head to head with all companies offering new gadgets to entice Japan’s digital book worms away from their cell phones.

On Dec. 10  Sony’s new black-and-white touch screen e-readers – the PRS-650 Touch Edition and PRS-350 Pocket Edition – went on sale. According to Good Reader, the company is already hailing the launch a success and claim that stocks of the Touch Edition are already running low. Sony is also saying that, contrary to its expectations, the device is selling well in bookstores it’ll be hard to guage just how popular the device has been until actual sales figures have been released.

Sharp, which launched its Galapagos tablet this month, will be appealing to a wider market than just book readers. The tablets, which come in two models — the 10.8-inch for home use and a 5.5-inch mobile model — are both multi-media devices with LCD color screens. Running on the Android OS system, Sharp has teamed up with DVD rental giant Tsutaya to provide content for the tablets at the online Tsutaya Galapagos store, which currently sells books but will be offering movies and music in the spring.

In terms of content, both devices are not only compatible with their own dedicated websites but also with other content providers. In Sony’s case e-books can be downloaded both from Sony’s own Reader Store and from Papyless, which offers 15,000 works available to download on cell phones or PC in XDMF format. Content for Galapagos can be downloaded from the Tsutaya site and Renta!, a sister site of Papyless that works with iPhones and gadgets running on the Android OS. Both devices will, in short, benefit from e-bookstores that have been successful in providing content to the already healthy cell phone e-book market.

KDDI’s biblio Leaf SP02 reader, which also launched this month, has a black-and-white screen and has the rather groovy advantage of being able to run on solar power. KDDI’s content store, the LISMO Book Store, currently offers 20,000 books with plans to expand this list to 100,000 by March 2012.

While techies and movie lovers may be drawn to tablets like the Galapagos, we’re thinking true book lovers, or simply people wary of incurring eye strain, will favor the Sony Reader or KDDI’s new device. The proof will not only be in the attractiveness of the devices themselves, but also in the amount of content each device offers. In that sense half the battle will decided by which company is able to offer the widest and most popular range of titles to readers.

Publishers flock to next-generation newsstands

Saturday, September 11th, 2010

SoftBank's Viewn service allows users to read a wide range of publications for a flat monthly fee

SoftBank’s Viewn service allows users to read a wide range of publications for a monthly fee

Spurred on by the early innovations of mobile-phone carriers, namely DoCoMo’s i-mode platform, Japan’s publishing industry was quick to get its content on the small screens of cell phones – and charge handsomely for it.  But the times they are a-changin’ again, with new options in print-promotion strategies, distribution channels and business models.

In June, online magazine store Magastore, which was previously mainly orientated toward iPhone/iPad users, went Android-friendly, thus opening its doors to all au and DoCoMo smartphone users (before, it was only available for DoCoMo users on the i-mode platform). Launched last year, Magastore provides content from 20 Japanese publishers, including major-league names such as Asahi Shimbun and Sony. Magazines can cost up to ¥500 and popular titles include Spa!Newsweek and Oz Magazine.

Since Magastore became widely available to their rivals, SoftBank, who exclusively sell the iPhone in Japan, went one better by launching Viewn (ビューン )  in the same month that Magastore went live with Android. Aimed at iPhone users and SoftBank’s 3G customers, Viewn offers free content from 31 different kinds of newspapers and magazines for a flat fee of ¥450 a month, with the first month free. Viewn boasts famous titles such as fashion magazine CanCam and news daily Mainichi Shimbun, but content is limited: Users have to put up with banner advertising and can access only selected articles.

Readers only interested in reading a particular article can now benefit from a website that went live this month. Providing individual electronic versions of articles published in magazines and books, G-Search Mitsuke! offers users a cheaper alternative to buying the entire publication. An article from The Economist, for example, costs ¥210, as opposed to buying the entire print publication at ¥650. As J-Cast points out, though, the problem is there’s a delay between the print edition’s release and G-Search Mitsuke!’s digital version. G-Search Mitsuke! articles can be read on virtually any cell phone, but the clunky PDF format doesn’t exactly promise an easy read.

Though G-Search Mitsuke and Magastore titles are available to users of all the big three cell-phone carriers, Viewn is exclusively in the clutches of SoftBank, meaning we can expect au and DoCoMo to continue to play catch-up.

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