Nineteen electronics companies, publishing houses and other firms announced Wednesday they will set up a consortium Oct. 1 to promote the use of eBooks and the devices that display them.

The planned alliance, the Electric Book Business Consortium, will seek to promote widespread use of such devices, which generally use liquid crystal displays, as well as the practice of reading books using such gadgets, the firms told a news conference.

The companies include Toshiba Corp., Matsushita Electric Industrial Co., Kenwood Corp., Iwanami Shoten Publishers, Keiso-Shobo Publishing Co., Dai Nippon Printing Co. and Softbank Corp.

As an example of such a terminal, Matsushita has developed a product called Sigma Book.

Consisting of two A5-size LCD panels facing each other, the gadget displays pages of books electronically downloaded from the Internet or via special downloading terminals expected to be installed at bookstores across Japan, Matsushita officials said.

The Sigma Book, which will sell for roughly 30,000 yen, is designed to replicate the precise look of pages in conventional books and comics, they said.

The consortium will seek to devise specific methods with which the contents of eBooks can be sold at bookstores, they said.

“Would-be purchasers of eBooks could bring to bookstores their secure digital memory cards, onto which the content of eBooks could be downloaded from a terminal,” a Matsushita official said. “They could then transfer the contents from the cards to their own terminal at home.”

Cartoonist Machiko Satonaka, who was appointed as an adviser to the consortium, told the news conference that use of the computerized terminals “would enable people to read masterpieces which went unnoticed when they were first published.”

“People at inconveniently situated locations would be able to read the books they desire to read,” she said.

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