Posts Tagged ‘e-readers’

April Fool’s in Japan — the joke’s on you

Monday, April 1st, 2013

April Fool’s Day doesn’t have very deep roots in Japanese culture, but obviously branding creatives and open-minded corporations are seeing the potential benefits of making potential customers laugh. Rather than pulling a fast one, these pranks put their silliness up-front and center.

Ika

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Never runs out of batteries, glows in the dark and easy to handle.

Introducing the iKA Organic Ebook from publisher Kodansha. Drawing its power from the squid’s natural bioenergy, there’s no need to recharge the batteries. The iKA’s long tentacles serve as a handy neck-strap, it glows in the dark and has endless supply of ink. The iKA is provided via a subscription service, which delivers a fresh squid each week (note:  size and weight may vary). You get the added bonus of being able to cook and eat the old one (special squid dish recipe available to early buyers!). How’s that for eco-friendly technology?

Domino's can pizza

Don’t you hate how unwieldy pizzas can be? Dominos’s new canned pizza is not only compact, it’s long-lasting, so you can stock up your bomb shelter and never go without a slice!

giant squid

Need something with a bit more substance? How about Hanamaru Udon‘s giant squid, caught daily by harpoon fishing and fried up as tempura, from  That will be ¥87,000, please.

Silky

Taking aim at Line, the runaway hit app of the past year, search site Goo offers Silky, the old favorite for free and simple communication. And you can send silly stamps too!  And  yes, it’s biodegradable tech, too?

Forcebook

We have to give full props to Eiga.com, a movie info site, for its execution of Yoda’s account on Forcebook. They got every detail right … from George Lucas friending J.J. Abrams to  Anakin Skywalker changing his account name to Darth Vader to R2D2 denial of Jar Jar Bink’s friend request. One ad shows has Imperial Storm Troopers raising funds to rebuild Death Star. May the forceful guffaw go with you.

By the way, did you spot this one in The Japan Times. I mean we highly admire professor Mogura Tataki’s mission to eliminate society’s bias against lefties but  something tells us we’re being pawned.

 (Research by Shinjin Ono and Kazuhiro Kobayashi)

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.

Sony steps up its e-publishing game

Thursday, June 3rd, 2010

Coming to a briefcase near you?

Coming to a briefcase near you?

Just before the iPad hit the stores in Japan, Sony announced plans to once again enter the fray of e-publishing. The firm was burned back in 2007 when it was forced to withdraw their e-reader from the Japanese market due to poor sales. But this time, Sony is coming to the fight armed with a content deal that might just put a dent in iPad and Kindle sales. Sony is teaming up with Toppan PrintingKDDI and the Asahi Shimbun to form an e-book content distribution service that will offer readers a range of comics, magazines, newspapers and books. The content will be available to use in conjunction with the company’s new e-reader that is due to be released to the public before the end of the year.

Up till now, publishers have been a little leery of entering the e-book market, but there seems to be a growing acceptance in the industry of the inevitability of the growth of the sector. According to J-Cast, on May 21 a book written by editor and web designer Tashiro Makoto was published on the subject of the future of the e-book publishing. Makoto who has proved himself to be ahead of the curve in this field – he set up an electronic publishing company called Agora Books in March this year – believes that e-publishing doesn’t necessarily spell doom for publishers, agents and books stores but believes that the iPad will have a profound effect on the publishing industry.

It goes without saying that publishers will have to adapt to survive, but it’s not yet clear just how much content will cost and how many titles will be available on Sony’s device which is due to be released in Japan before the end of 2010.

Another fuzzy issue is just what kind of specs Sony’s e-reader will have; whether it’ll resemble the Sony readers already available overseas or be an entirely new product. Poor screen resolution, as well as glare when reading outdoors, also contributed to downfall of Sony’s last attempt at conquering the e-reader market in Japan. In order to stand any chance of success the company will have to address these issues as well. But for now, they seemed to have scored big with their content deal, whether rival publishers like Agora who offer content for the iPad mount a serious threat to them is yet to be seen.

The poor man’s alternative to iPad, Kindle, et al.

Thursday, May 13th, 2010

The EYE-reader is a good tool to display manga

The manga-friendly EYE-Reader

Any self-respecting geek knows that iPad is on its way to Japan. This week pre-orders of the ballyhooed device came flooding in and were subsequently halted due to the huge response.

But have you heard of the EYE-Reader? This weekend Japanese firm Samurai will throw their hat into the ring with the launch of a device that can be used as a photo frame, movie player and MP3 player. And yes, it is indeed an e-reader too, which boasts a matte liquid screen screen that makes it easy to read outdoors.  At 500 grams, it’s 180 grams lighter than the iPad. And the price? A mere ¥9,880.

Granted, the EYE-Reader lacks an EYE-store so you’ll have bring your own media, via USB memory stick or SD/SDHC cards.  Gizmodo reports that in a test drive it performed well when displaying manga but a closer inspection of the EYE-Reader’s specs, unfortunately, shows that it has a few limitations. Characters are not displayed as text but as images, which is all very well if you’re reading comics but a drawback if you’re trying to search for text as you would in a document. Also, PDF files have to be converted into JPEGs, the screen resolution is rather shoddy (the 8-inch screen displays at 800 x 600 pixels) and the two-hour battery time is a let-down, as is the six-hour charging time.

So, yeah, EYE-Reader is little more than a jumped-up photo frame, and we don’t see putting a dent in iPad sales. It does, however present an appealing alternative to the Kindle, which at ¥44,000 also displays manga as images but has only just begun to offer titles.

Gizmodo points out that at this price it would might be good for reading while on the toilet or in the bath. We have to agree.

Which e-reader will conquer Japan?

Friday, January 29th, 2010

readers

The news that Amazon Japan will be offering the first Japanese manga on Kindle will be welcomed by a small cadre of dedicated e-reader fans. So what took so long? Part of the problem is that the Kindle’s default font only supports Latin-based letters so that device owners either have to use a hack to view Japanese characters or be able to read English. As the text in manga is displayed as an image, this ought to eliminate one problem, though users will still have to negotiate English menus to buy a title and be satisfied with monochromatic pictures.

So why isn’t Amazon too bothered with tailoring their device to suit the local market? Perhaps an answer to that question can be found in 2004 when Sony introduced LIBRIe, their first e-reader for the Japanese market. ITmedia News’ article explains that the product failed to spark the imagination of the Japanese public, who despite enjoying reading titles from their mobile phones, felt the technology wasn’t particularly aesthetically pleasing.

Due to poor sales, the Sony e-reader was withdrawn from the Japanese market in 2007, clearing the way for Amazon and other players. Despite this, in the U.K. and U.S., Sony’s e-readers are proving themselves strong competitors against the Kindle, both in terms of price and applications.

Continue reading about e-readers in Japan →

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