One of the more overlooked announcements from Apple's event yesterday was that the iBooks now has support for Asian languages. Chinese, Korean and Japanese are all available in native right-to-left format with their own stores to support the titles available in these countries. It seems the announcement has forced Amazon's hand to announce their own Asian expansion.
Amazon announced today that the Kindle Store is now available in Japan with the Kindle Paperwhite being the first device to natively support the Japanese language. The device will have access to over 50,000 Japanese-language Kindle books and over 15,000 manga titles. The Wi-Fi Paperwhite will be available for a relatively cheap 8,480 yen ($106) and the Wi-Fi/3G version will retail for 12,980 yen ($162).
“After twelve years of selling print books on Amazon.co.jp, we are excited to offer the millions of Amazon.co.jp customers the new Kindle Store, with the largest selection of the books people want to read, the largest selection of Oricon best sellers in books, bunko, and manga, and over 50,000 Japanese-language titles—all available to anyone with a Kindle Paperwhite, Kindle Fire, Android phone, Android tablet, iPhone, or iPad,” said Jeff Bezos, Amazon.com Founder and CEO. “Kindle Paperwhite is the Kindle e-reader we have always wanted to build—it has 62% more pixels and 25% higher contrast than the previous generation Kindle, built-in front light, perfect for reading in bed or in sunlight, even thinner, with 8 weeks of battery life.”
The Japanese Kindle store will launch on October 25. The store will feature a number of exclusive titles from some of Japan's most prolific authors including Arimasa Osawa and Yusuke Kishi. Amazon is also going to be pushing manga in a big way by making the latest volume of Neon Genesis Evangelion exclusive to the Kindle Store.
The Kindle Fire HD is already available in Japan, but the Kindle Paperwhite is their first stab at offering eReaders in the country. Tablets are growing in popularity in Japan thanks to the iPad, but it's hard to tell if eReaders will have the same success. The exclusive title are definitely a good first start.