Japan’s National Diet Library is moving into the digital age, with the help of bookstore operator Kinokuniya and Dai Nippon Printing. Dai Nippon is responsible for scanning the books and they will be offered for free on Kinokumiya’s online bookstore.
The project will start out with 13 works which will include Heiji Monogatari, a war epic composed in the 13th century, Kappa, a novel by Ryunosuke Akutagawa and Tono Monogatari by Kunio Yanagita. The works will include scroll paintings and images of the author’s hadwritten manuscripts as well.
The Diet Library is using outside parties for the program, which was delayed by the necessity to obtain permission for some of the books because they contained commentary or had cover designs that were still under copyright protection.
The library’s original plan for digitization was scuttled because of publishing industry resistance and it was re-thought and is now being implemented by the private sector. According to the article in the Asahi Shimbun the Japanese publishing industry faces a shortage of ebooks and hopes to expand its lineup with the Library’s data. The industry is also responding now because, according to the newspaper, they fear that Amazon and Google will acquire the Library’s digital data and dominate the market.
Paul Biba is a retired corporate international lawyer who has worked in 53 countries. Since he is a very fast reader he came to ebooks out of self-defense in order to avoid carrying a suitcase of books on his travels around the world. An early ebook adopter, he has read on Palms, Pocket PCs and practically every device that has been out there. After being a frequent contributor to TeleRead.com, the oldest ebook/epublishing blog on the net, Paul became TeleRead’s Editor-in-Chief, a position he recently resigned. Send Paul an email to email@example.com