Apple(s AAPL) will launch a fully fledged iBookstore in Japan this year, Japanese newspaper The Nikkei reports [paywall, only a snippet is free]. While iBooks has been available there since 2010, Apple and other e-reading companies faced reluctant publishers. Now, with Kindle (s AMZN), Kobo, Google (s GOOG) and Sony (s SNE) all selling ebooks in Japan, Apple reportedly has agreements with Japanese publishers Shogakukan, Kodansha and Kadokawa.
The timing of the launch is unclear. While The Nikkei says it could happen as early as this month, AllThingsD cites sources who say that’s “far too optimistic.”
Japan has been slow to embrace ebooks, with manga dominating the ebook market and publishers reluctant to digitize books in fear of cannibalization of print sales. (Publishing Perspectives has a lot of good coverage of the ebook transition in Japan.) But the arrival of other Western ebook retailers in the country should grease the wheels for Apple, and since the iPad’s market share in Japan is estimated around 60 percent, that should also help adoption of the platform.