E-book

E-book Mania Hits Japan

Over the years, the modern world has become digitalized. We rely more and more on gadgets in our daily lives. It is almost unthinkable to do school or office work without a computer, drive on unfamiliar roads without a GPS, go a day without a smart phone, iPad, or television. Almost all our creature comforts are digitalized, including our books.

An electronic book, digital book, or e-book is a book- length publication in digital form. Various magazines, newspapers, comic books, and manga and anime books are available as e-books and in several languages all around the world. And some commercially available materials are dedicated for e-book readers (not available in printed form). The very first e-book, prepared by Robert Busa, was the Index Thomisticus, a heavily annotated index of the works of Thomas Aquinas.

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An e-book reader literally allows you to carry an entire library, thousands of books, in the palm of your hand. Electronic tablets such as iPads can also display e-books. Japan has a large market of readers, and the publishing industry has been enjoying high sales over the past years. Although Japan is known to be a forerunner in the electronics industry, its consumers have resisted embracing the new mode . . . until recently. There has been a significant rise in sales of e-book readers among Japanese consumers. Amazon Japan and Rakuten have e-books and e-book readers that are cheaper than those usually available in stores. This has greatly reduced the business of many bookstores and other smaller retailers. Thirty-four percent of bookstores have closed in Japan since 2000.

There are several advantages and disadvantages to e-books and e-book readers.  The good:  you can hold hundreds and thousands of books in just one device; you need very little physical space for all those books (just storage space in your e-reader)’ e-books are cheaper than printed books; you can make a purchase and receive it almost immediately; on colored tablets, manga and anime art and photo colors are vivid; and most of all, you save trees.

The bad: having to charge your device regularly; the initial investment for an e-book reader can be quite costly; on some gadgets, you have to deal with glare when reading under direct sunlight; lending an e-book may be difficult since it is in your device; and for some hard core book lovers, there is the lack of the aesthetic feel and smell of a good old book.  Which one do you prefer?

Check out this e-book manga: