E-readers spawn scanning cottage industry as consumer demands not met in Japan

Yusuke Ohki’s 2,000 books were crowding out his Tokyo apartment, so he scanned them all into an Apple iPad. Six months later the 28-year-old is running a 120-strong startup doing the same thing for customers.

Japan’s cramped living conditions and the arrival of the iPad in May have spawned as many as 60 companies offering to turn paper books into e-books as publishers have been slow to provide content for new electronic readers.

Japan has lagged behind the U.S. in introducing e-books because of a rigid pricing system, uncertainty over copyrights and early problems reproducing Japanese characters on screens, according to Toshihiro Takagi, an analyst at market researcher Impress R&D in Tokyo.

"People are taking matters into their own hands because the publishers are not meeting the market’s needs," Takagi said.

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