Sony, KDDI, Asahi, Toppan in e-book tieup

by Kazuaki Nagata

Sony Corp., KDDI Corp, the Asahi Shimbun Co. and Toppan Printing Co. announced Wednesday they will jointly establish a company to sell and distribute electronic books and attempt to launch the service by year’s end.

The company, which hasn’t been named yet, will be established July 1 with ¥30 million in capital and be financed equally by the four partners. The new firm will be tasked with developing a common electronic platform for digital content, including books and newspapers.

“We all run business in different fields, but we share the same will to maintain and improve Japanese content that plays an important role in our culture,” Yasushi Wake, chief of digital business at Asahi Shimbun, said in a joint Tokyo news conference.

“The new platform will have to be something that encourages publishing companies and a wide variety of content providers to provide content. Also, it should be used for various devices expected to debut in the future,” Wake said.

And instead of creating just one store, the company will probably develop several kinds of e-book stores, the representatives said, adding they have also been talking to other firms interested in the platform.

They also said the new company hopes to make the platform “open” so other firms that wish to maintain Japan’s book culture can work together.

Sony meanwhile said it will reintroduce its e-book reader, the Sony Reader, to the domestic market, while KDDI, operator of the au cell phone network, said it intends to develop devices for customers who want to read electronic books. Sony stopped selling e-readers in Japan in 2007.

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