Toshiba announced its first dedicated e-reader on Thursday. It will launch in February in Japan, backed by an online store with 100,000 titles, and the company may also launch the BookPlace reader outside Japan.
Toshiba has focused on high-end tablets, including the super-thin 10-inch Excite it announced earlier this month, but decided to add an e-reader to its lineup to drive interest in its online BookPlace bookstore.
“It is very important to have dedicated e-readers so that more come to know about and try digital books,” said Tadahiro Nagashima, who heads Toshiba’s Japanese tablet business.
Toshiba aims to have 1.5 million users for its online store in Japan by March 2016, he said. The store, which has reader apps available for Android and Windows, is also available in the U.S.
Nagashima, who spoke to reporters at Toshiba headquarters in Tokyo, acknowledged the company was entering a crowded market. But he said the device would stand out because of its quick response and ease-of-use features, which include physical navigation buttons.
The BookPlace reader has 8GB of memory, is 11 millimeters thick and weighs 330 grams. It runs a Linux-based operating system, but Toshiba is not revealing any details about it. It has a 7-inch color touch screen and a web browser that can be used with a Wi-Fi connection.
The device will cost ¥22,000 (US$280) in Japan, but comes with a ¥5,000 credit on purchase of books.
Toshiba previously launched a line of mobile e-reading devices called biblio which is only available through au, a Japanese carrier.