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Apple to Launch iBookstore in Japan in January 2013

167564011_31fff498d0[1]The Nikkei reported today that Apple will be expanding their ebookstore soon. Some time in the near future, possibly as early as next month, Apple will start selling ebooks in Japan. They have reportedly already signed a number of Japanese publishers, including Kadokawa, Kodansha, Shogakukan, and others.

Apple reportedly has 80 thousand titles lined up, all from local publishers. When combined with their dominance of the Japanese tablet market (iPad has a 60% market share), Apple will likely have a sizable advantage over the competition, one which is should be enough to help overcome the fact that Apple was beaten to the Japanese ebook market by Kobo, Google, and Amazon.

All this competition is expected to boost the growth of the Japanese ebook market. It’s currently estimated to be worth 70 billion yen, and some believe it will grow to 200 billion yen in the next few years.

If today’s news is a sign of what’s to come then 2013 promises to be a very interesting year.

Not sure what I mean?  If you look at the pattern of the ebookstore launches in the past 60 months I’m sure you’ll see why I think that.

Twice in the past 6 months one of the maj0r ebookstores launched a local store, just to have their competition follow suit weeks or months later.

  • Brazil? Kobo, Apple, Amazon
  • Japan? Kobo, Amazon, Google, and Apple (soon)
  • China? Amazon, for now
  • India? Amazon again

The pattern of where you don’t see competing launches, China and India for example, is going to make for an interesting comparison. Will those ebook markets grow as fast as the hyper competitive markets?

More importantly, which ebook market will be the next to see multiple ebookstores launch? I’m thinking Russia, myself, B&N is already sniffing around in that market, so Amazon is probably hot on their heels.  If there’s anything that I learned from the Waterstones-Amazon deal, it’s that Amazon won’t let B&N get the slightest advantage. Why else did Amazon sign with Waterstones if not to keep the bookseller away from B&N?


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