After many months of waiting, Amazon’s Kindle bookstore and ebook readers are finally making their promised way to Japan. Customers will be able to purchase from 50,000 Japanese titles on Amazon’s online bookstore starting tomorrow (October 25th), while e-readers like the Kindle Paperwhite and Kindle Fire won’t be shipping until the middle of November.
Originally rumored to be coming in April, Amazon’s devices were updated to “coming soon” status in July before the company entered a three-month period of radio silence. During the interim, Rakuten opened up its Kobo Japan bookstore in July, releasing the Kobo Touch e-reader at ¥7,980, or about $100. Even Google managed to open Play Books ahead of Amazon. Japan's publishers are notoriously fragmented, making it difficult to secure rights deals, likely contributing to the delay. In comparison, Apple's own iBookstore has yet to cross the border, and no new announcements have surfaced despite a November 2nd Japanese release for its new, cheaper iPad mini.
Kobo and Sony are still in the lead with over 65,000 Japanese books
Kindle pre-orders begin today, starting at ¥8,480 ($106) for the cheapest Paperwhite, while the new Kindle Fire will go for ¥12,800 ($160) and the 16GB Kindle Fire HD for ¥15,800 ($198). At just ¥500 more than the cheapest Kobo, Amazon's Paperwhite offers an impressive value, although both the Kobo Japan bookstore and Sony's Reader Store still lead Amazon in overall Japanese book count, with both stores offering over 65,000 titles.