Sharp to Offer E-Book Store Service Starting December

Sharp Corp., Japan’s largest maker of liquid-crystal displays, will start offering an electronic bookstore service in Japanese in December amid growing popularity of electronic books.

The company will sell two tablet reader models, Sharp said in a statement distributed in Tokyo today. Users of the devices, which are equipped with a 5.5-inch screen and a 10.8-inch screen, can access 30,000 titles, including newspapers, magazines and books, Sharp said.

Sharp aims to win one million customers for the e-book services by the end of 2011 with its two readers, the company said. The devices will compete with Apple Inc.’s iPad tablet computer, which can also be used as an e-reader for titles bought from its store.

In July, Sharp unveiled an updated version of its e-book format that will allow users to play video and audio. The global e-book market may expand to 56 million units in the year ending March 2013 from 7.5 million in the 12 months to March 2011, the Osaka-based company estimated in July.

To contact the reporter on this story: Mariko Yasu in Tokyo at myasu@bloomberg.net.

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Anand Krishnamoorthy at anandk@bloomberg.net

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