updated 11:01 am EST, Wed January 2, 2013
Talks still ongoing with major Japanese publishers
Apple should finally launch paid titles at the Japanese iBookstore sometime this year, according to sources for AllThingsD. The company is reportedly negotiating with several Japanese publishers, such as Kodansha, Shogakukan, and Kadokawa. Talks are said to be making progress, and agreements may be completed soon. Allegedly, though, a launch won't happen as fast as the Nikkei has suggested, which is later this month.
Although the iBookstore is technically already online in Japan, the only books available through it there are public domain works. The Japanese e-book market is thought to be especially difficult to enter into, so while devices like the iPhone and iPad are extremely popular in the country, Apple has been unable to secure the rights to Japanese book content since the iBookstore's debut in 2010. Only an October iBooks update brought support for Japanese-language texts.
Books, movies, and TV shows are usually the last forms of content that Apple will put on sale in a country. The company has very few obstacles to putting up iOS apps, and because of the content's popularity, is usually aggressive about negotiating music rights.