We don’t know if the timing has anything to do with Apple’s iPad mini unveiling, but Amazon is finally making headway with its new e-book reader and tablets in the key market of Japan. The Land of the Rising Sun will get the Paperwhite and two Kindle Fires starting next month, while Amazon’s Kindle Store will open tomorrow, on October 25.
The virtual bookstore available at Amazon.co.jp will offer a large selection of “the most popular books”, including over 50,000 Japanese-language Kindle books, but also over 15,000 manga titles. Among these, there’ll be 10,000 free Japanese books and an undisclosed number of free manga titles for starters, although the selection should grow significantly over the next few months.
There’ll be of course additional “best sellers” available in English and other languages, so the store will actually offer over one million titles upon launch. That’s not too shabby, although Amazon will still need to make a push to challenge the likes of Kobo and Sony, whose freshly released bookstores have over 65,000 Japanese books to offer each.
As for devices, Amazon hasn’t brought its entire line of e-book readers and tablets in Japan, but for a beginning, even one delayed several times, things are looking decent.
The new Paperwhite e-reader is up for pre-order and will start shipping before its more high-end “cousins”, on November 19. Japanese e-book lovers will have to cough up ¥8,480 for the 6-incher, which would translate into around $106 based on today’s exchange rates. That’s less than Americans have to pay for the gadget, but it’s a tad higher than Kobo Touch’s ¥7,980 price. Kobo’s e-reader will most definitely be a worthy opponent for the Paperwhite, which is why the new e-reader is so cheap.
The 3G version of the Paperwhite is also up for pre-order over in Japan for ¥12,980 (around $162), but it will only start shipping on December 2.
The 7-inch Kindle Fire and Fire HD will come even later, on December 19, but you can pre-order them for some pretty lucrative prices. The 8 GB Fire is only ¥12,800 ($160), the 16 GB Fire HD is ¥15,800 ($197), while the 32 GB Fire HD goes for ¥19,800 ($247). Not bad, not bad at all!
Now all Amazon has to do is keep its promise of launching the Appstore in Japan by the end of the year, and nobody will have any more complaining to do in that part of the world.