Japan telecom firm KDDI to start e-book distribution

Japan's number two telecom operator KDDI Corp. said Tuesday it would start electronic book distribution this week, offering an initial 20,000 titles for its e-reader.

The LISMO Book Store service will start on Saturday for the "biblio Leaf SP02" e-reader, focusing on novels, how-to guides and business books, the company said.

The release follows a head-to-head launch by Sony and Sharp earlier this month of devices they hope will battle the likes of Apple, Amazon and Samsung in the highly competitive e-book and tablet computer market.

The initial line-up of 20,000 books will be expanded to 100,000 by the end of March 2012.

The tablet-size reader, initially available in western and southern Japan, is loaded with a memory of two gigabytes which can store data of roughly 3,000 books, KDDI said.

The e-book distribution service will eventually expand to smartphones.