January 17, 2022

Japan: “National Library Joins Digital Wave, Will Offer Books Online”

From The Asahi Shimbun:

Japan’s largest library will begin offering online access to selected books on Feb. 1, starting with 13 works that include some of the country’s most famous epics and folk tales and a novel written by one of its most acclaimed novelists.

The National Diet Library is trying out its new online delivery system, which was requested by the Agency for Cultural Affairs, with help from bookstore operator Kinokuniya Co. and the Dai Nippon Printing Co. group.

It will be the first time that the library has scanned its books and allowed private companies to turn them into e-books for delivery to readers.


The National Diet Library has been rushing to catch up with this trend and create digital copies from its own books. A plan put forth by the previous head of the library called for online access even to books still under copyright. A fee of several dollars would be collected and royalties paid to the authors and other rights holders. But that plan drew backlash from publishers, which argued the practice would harm the private sector.

The current plan, which begins on Feb. 1, is to have a private company handle the delivery, instead of the library itself.

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About Gary Price

Gary Price (gprice@mediasourceinc.com) is a librarian, writer, consultant, and frequent conference speaker based in the Washington D.C. metro area. Before launching INFOdocket, Price and Shirl Kennedy were the founders and senior editors at ResourceShelf and DocuTicker for 10 years. From 2006-2009 he was Director of Online Information Services at Ask.com, and is currently a contributing editor at Search Engine Land.