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In Cramped Japan, Tablets Hold the Home Library

According to Bloomberg Businessweek, Japan’s average home size is half that of the U.S. This makes it a great market for any space-saving innovation that makes the best use of limited space. Therefore, it is not a surprise that the Japanese have welcomed the advent of tablet computers with open arms.

While companies such as Apple with its iPad and Samsung with its Galaxy Tab have opened up new possibilities for Japanese digital publishers, few companies have stepped up their game to meet the requirements of the Japanese digital publishing industry. A mix of startups ranging from an online website builder to a pulp-to-PDF scanner are filling this void and offering digitized books for a fee.

Local companies such as Bookscan, founded by Yusuke Ohki and Shinya Iwamatsu, are charging about 100 yen (about $1.22) to digitize a book and produce PDF files. This company gained a lot of exposure after Japanese Internet entrepreneur Takafumi Horie (@takapon_jp) tweeted about the startup. Startups such as Bookscan are able to legally exist in Japan because under Japanese law, book owners are allowed to digitize their personal libraries for personal use.

bookscan founder

Bookscan co-founder, Yusuke Ohki.

Of course, problems will arise once the startup-produced or home-made PDF files make their way via email or illegal 3rd markets. Still, people are willing to take the risk because the industry is slow to react. The first main issue is that Japanese publishers are not open to the idea of selling discounted digital copies of books. The second main issue is that there are no official standards on how to display Japanese characters on tablets because Japanese characters are read from top to bottom rather than left to right.

By Damian Davila, blogger covering startups at You can read more articles from Damian at SexySocialMedia here. Follow him on Twitter at @idaconcpts.

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