Amazon to Open Kindle Store in Japan?

There’s a rumor going around today that Amazon is looking to open a local Kindle Store in Japan, and it could launch as soon as some time this year.

The Nikkei, a Japanese newspaper, has learned that Amazon is in the final stages of working out deals with a number of Japanese publishers, including Kodansha, Shogakukan, Shueisha, and Shinchosha Publishing. There are also reports that Amazon has already reached a deal with the PHP Institute.

The Kindle has been available in Japan since Amazon released the international Kindle in 2009, and this is not the first report that Amazon is looking to expand its presence in Japan. There are reports dating as far back as April of 2010 (here), and they read much the same as this one. In fact, Amazon has reportedly been about ready to sign Kodansha on at least a couple occasions, and that renders this report questionable.

While I’m not sure this report is true, Amazon would be smart to aggressively pursue this market. The Japanese eBook market dwarfs the US market by a significant amount.It was estimated to be around 65 billion yen ($846.9 million) in fiscal 2010, while the book market as a whole is estimated to be over 2 trillion yen.