Apple has just made its entry into Japan’s thriving e-book market with the expansion of its Japanese iBookstore, effective as of several minutes ago.

“The iBookstore in Japan now has hundreds of thousands of books available for purchase, including fiction, manga, light novels and more.”

That’s Apple essentially announcing the much anticipated expansion to its e-bookstore in the release notes for the latest update to iBooks.

Apple’s official e-reading app, the newly updated iBooks now also includes improvements for properly rendering Asian-language books.

iBooks

First reported at the beginning of January, the expansion of the iBookstore in Japan sees the inclusion of premium e-books and e-textbooks from some of the biggest publishers in the country. These include Kodansha Ltd., Shogakukan Inc., and Kadokawa Group Holdings Inc.

With this, Apple effectively joins its fellow major players, Google, Amazon, and Kobo, in occupying Japan’s e-book market, which is valued at ¥70 billion.

Previously, only free e-books in the public domain were offered by Apple in the Japanese iBookstore.

Compatible with iPhone, iPod touch, and iPad running iOS 5.0 or later, the latest version of iBooks is available now in the App Store for free.

If you’re interested in other e-reading apps for iOS, do check out my posts in my weekly Shelf Control column.