Ebooks haven't quite caught on in Japan as much as they have elsewhere — with such a fragmented publishing scene the iBookstore is a ghost town, Kindle and Nook are non-entities, and it's really only Sony carrying the flag with limited success. Toshiba is aiming to fix that with its BookPlace DB50, an e-reader with a 7-inch, 1024x600 color LCD screen. It has a 1Ghz processor, 1GB RAM, 8GB of onboard storage, and should be good for 7.5 hours of battery life. If you're thinking this sounds a lot like the Kindle Fire, you'd be right — and Toshiba is taking a similar route with its software by heavily skinning Android 2.3 for a simple interface that lets you get back to your bookshelves with a touch of the home button.

The reader is designed for Toshiba's own BookPlace store, which already sells books via both iOS and Android apps. The store currently has around 43,000 books in its library, but will expand to over 100,000 by the end of March, making it Japan's largest ebook seller. The reader will cost about 22,000 yen (around $284), though that includes 5,000 yen ($64) worth of credit for the BookPlace store. We're not convinced that an LCD e-reader will hook Japan on ebooks — a recent local survey shows that "difficult to read" is the number one reason given for not having jumped on board — but a well-stocked store would be a good place to start. The BookPlace DB50 will be released on February 10th.