Readersforum's Blog

February 19, 2013

Why Japanese readers don’t like e-books

FortuneJapan has some of the fastest internet connections in the world, but physical media such as books and DVDs still remain popular.

By Michael Fitzpatrick

Despite Japan’s “default-setting-for-the future” status, coined by Sci-fi writer William Gibson, time on this rocky archipelago appears to be headed backwards. Kerosene is replacing nuclear energy; deflation, not inflation, is still rife; and, publishers are clinging energetically to print when, in neighboring South Korea, it seems to have been abandoned altogether.

Why have Japanese consumers not fallen in love with digital reading? “So far the Japanese have failed to be moved by e-readers from home or abroad, mostly owing to a paucity of content,” says editor and publisher of Japan’s E-book 2.0 magazine Hiroki Kamata. Sony , for instance, has been in the market for more than seven years but has sold only 500,000 e-readers in Japan. Other manufacturers’ tablets have begun to sell here, but overall the category is still way behind e-reader take-up in the U.S. or Europe. Tablet sales have tripled since 2011, with market research firm IDC estimating tablet sales in Japan to be 3.6 million units.

 

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