Apple launched the iBookstore in Japan today with "hundreds of thousands" of books and manga now available for purchase. Japan is a huge market for Apple, but previously the local iBookstore offered nothing but public-domain works, the vast majority of which were in English. While the country's fragmented publishing industry has proved tricky to unify in the digital age, the past year has seen Amazon, Google, and Rakuten-owned Kobo enter the market with solid ebook offerings, leaving Apple looking out of step.
The new iBookstore should go some way to redressing that balance, although it appears Apple hasn't quite sewn up all the deals yet — major publishers such as Shogakukan and Shueisha are missing from the company's announcement, though both appear on the Kindle Store in Japan. However, it will offer content unavailable elsewhere, such as three exclusive works from Ryu Murakami; the noted novelist commented "As an author and Apple user for 20 years, the arrival of the iBookstore allows me to tell stories in a way you simply can't in a physical book."