KDDI Launches Mobile EZ-Book Portal
Online bookstores are nothing new but KDDI has wrapped up a mobile reading solution that transforms cell phones into personal book-mobiles. Starting 21 April, EZ Book Land for au WIN EV-DO cell phones brings bestsellers, business titles, movie novelizations, manga (comics) and anime right onto handsets — 7,000 titles from ten sites. Like the EZ Channel video program service, books auto-download to subscribers late at night (when network demand is low) to be read at leisure with no connection fees to worry about. Viewer software is provided by the XMDF e-book viewer developed by Sharp for regular titles and Celsys Comic Surfing software for manga/anime. EZ Book Land partner Maruzen’s bookstore chain anchors the portal in the real world for book orders of the three-dimensional kind via au Books.
KDDI’s BREW-based EZ GameStreet, EZ Music and now, EZ Book Land, have redefined the ‘mobile entertainment for dummies’ portal concept. Colorful push to play/pay interfaces smooth the way for impulsive indulgence: forget tap, tap, tapping credit card numbers and expiration dates. All those digits… Please! So recherche. Shopping at mobile ground zero means purchases can be automatically added with just a couple of clicks to the KDDI monthly statement. It’s painless (at least for 30 days). Typical file sizes range up to 1.5 MB with costs, depending on the content provider, starting at 50 yen per item.
At the EZ Book Land press conference on 19 April, Makoto Takahashi, vice president and general manager of the Content and Media Business Sector in KDDI?fs Contents Media Department, said company research shows online readers will certainly be one of the heaviest users of the manga downloads. Concluding that manga will probably be the most popular reading material is, we think, a no-brainer.
This is a good thing for one of the other partners in this venture, comic publisher Shogakukan. They are not the only manga provider for Book Land but their list is impressive to Japanese mangaphiles and includes Conan, Doraemon, Keroro Gunnso, Dangerous Jiisan and more from their hugely popular weekly manga magazines. Manga has been available on KDDI and rival telecoms for some time -– Shogakukan has manga sites on DoCoMo and Vodafone as well — but this venture has made the whole process one-stop-shopping easy and tossed in a few extras.
Manga has been bumped up, or anime dumbed down (depending on how you look at it) for EZBook Land mobile with an ‘anime’ option. Certain manga series are available in color with enhanced BGM (background music) and visual effects (and even a vibration mode). For some of these juicy adult manga titles, ?evibration mode?f could have, um, a deeper meaning.
KDDI is providing bright, clearly etched print and illustrated downloads for the EZ Book Land service, but readers overseas unaccustomed to using their handsets for much more than voice calls and the odd photo may find it hard to understand how anyone would willingly choose to read long texts on these tiny screens. Familiarity, in this case, breeds not contempt but appetite. With several years of keypad clicking and screen scrolling behind them, Japanese not only feel comfortable reading on their cellys but are ready to add books (and manga) to their mobile entertainment menu of email, Web, music and video.
— Gail Nakada