Booklive.jp: a great place to browse and buy Japanese E-books

By | January 14, 2016

In a previous post I had briefly mentioned the site Booklive.jp, but I wanted to talk in more detail about what this site has to offer.

Booklive.jp is a website which sells Japanese E-books (電子書籍, “denshi shoseki”) from a wide variety of genres, including magazines, manga, business books, and adult material.  While the layout of the site is a bit cluttered, its pretty easy to get used to if you know Japanese (I don’t think they have an English version of their site). Even if you are just learning the language, I think finding your way through the site to find a book you like is a good way to learn some new words in context.

Besides the pretty large selection (they boast almost a quarter million titles, exactly 231555 as of the time of this article’s writing), whats great about this site is that many (all?) of the works allow you to browse part of the book. In Japanese this is called “tachiyomi”, and you can do this from the site via the buttons ブラウザ立ち読み (browse from web browser) or アプリ立ち読み (browse from mobile app). If you want to browse a book from a mobile device, you need to install their mobile app. Doing this on iOS (iPhone/iPad) required me to change my store settings to the Japanese store. There are various sites online which give details on this but you can start here.

Besides iPhone/iPad, Boolive also supports Android devices as well as windows desktop. There doesn’t seem to be a Mac OS X client, but you can read via the web on Safari or some other browser. They also support an E-book reader called Lideo, but I think it is only available in Japan. Unfortunately there is no direct support for Kindle, though I think this is more due to restrictions created by Amazon than anything else. There may be a way to convert files for use on a Kindle but I haven’t figured out how.

Booklive also has short term sales where certain books will have their price reduced for 2 days. These are accessible via the “2-day” tab on the site. I’ve seen manga which are normally go for around 800 Yen drop to around 100 Yen.

For the few books whose prices I compared against Amazon Japan, they were about the same, although these were all non-sale items.

An avid reader since I was a boy, I still love the feel of physical, paper books, but with the many advantages of E-books it’s tempting to never buy a real book again.

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14 thoughts on “Booklive.jp: a great place to browse and buy Japanese E-books

  1. Stathes

    Thank you for your article. I was just wondering whether you could buy books from their site if you live outside Japan because other Japanese sites have limitations when it comes to purchasing e-books.

    Reply
    1. locksleyu Post author

      Good question. I am have been able to purchase books with my credit card that has an address in the US without problem, but I recommend sending an email if you have concerns about their policies.

      Reply
  2. Anika

    Hi!
    Have you tried calibre for converting files to kindle format?
    My kindle is not Japanese, so no chance to buy books from Amazon JP. This would be a nice alternative 🙂

    Reply
    1. locksleyu Post author

      Yes, I briefly try calibre but couldn’t get things to convert properly. However, I have read Japanese books on my American-bought Kindle by importing the files.

      Reply
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  5. Kiyo

    Hello again.

    I have been reading your blog entries since your translations, “Final Days of Summer” and “The Rainlands.” Finally, there is an ebook where I can purchase Japanese literature without ever spending more on shipping fees.

    Oh yeah, I am not sure if you are aware of this website (https://www.cmoa.jp/book/). It has a wide selection of mangas, but there is also a good selection of ebooks, too. However, I think that the selection might be almost similar to as in booklive.jp

    Thank you for the recommendation.

    Reply
    1. locksleyu Post author

      Thanks for the site recommendation, I didn’t know about that one.

      Reply
  6. Marcus

    I just wanted to ask about this before I buy any books from that site, when you buy books from there, do you get an epub file? Because slowly reading a few novels I love is part of how I’m trying to learn japanese, and I prefer them in epub format or something similar to that so that I can, for example, copy the kanji I don’t understand(which is most of them right now, I guess it will take at least a few years before I’m really fluent… Just getting started since half a year ago).

    Reply
    1. locksleyu Post author

      On Booklive.jp generally you can only read books in the reader, inside a mobile device on on the web.

      I don’t think they give epub files, and most places probably won’t because they want tight control (DRM) of their content.

      If you want content with more freedom, you can experiment with reading works on aozora bunko:

      http://aozora.gr.jp

      Reply
    2. locksleyu Post author

      One thing the mobile app allows is looking up words, so you can do that for Kanji you don’t understand.

      I think you can cut and paste as well, but only small sections of text.

      Reply
      1. Marcus

        Thanks for the answer 🙂

        Great that one can at least look some stuff up.

        However, if it’s not suitable after checking, I guess I’ll have to get an OCR software to extract the kanji from images. Some of them are surprisingly good and rarely misrecognizes any kanji. I can always patronize these sites/novels when I can read more properly and can enjoy it more. Right now, the most important thing is being able to interact with the text in order to quickly copy-paste everything I’m unsure about, both sentences and single words, and it needs to be decently smooth and fast without a lot of hindrances and issues.

        Reply
        1. locksleyu Post author

          OCR can be helpful, but I wouldn’t rely on it.

          Rather, learn kanji radicals and then you can use something like a kanji learners dictionary or an online dictionary to search by radical. This is usually pretty fast.

          Reply
          1. Marcus

            Hmmm, thanks for the tips. I’ll give it a shot. Ahh, hopefully I’ll be able to learn to the level of decent fluency in a few years… Practicing every day and varying between pure school books(for proper fundamentals) and other media so that I won’t get tired out and frustrated to the point of stopping.

            Tried to rely solely on education books at first, but after a while(a few months) I was so sick of repeating the same stuff everyday that I almost felt like stopping altogether. I’ve noticed that mixing it up a bit with things you WANT to read(even if it’s hard and slow, lighter manga usually has furigana and simpler dialogues though, so it’s easier than novels by far) and maybe some anime or similar stuff as well to understand speech is great. It might even help with learning more than just by education books thanks to more motivation and more varied media and thus information.

            Later on when I can read and understand japanese well enough, I will just drop all educational books and focus on enjoying myself in different media, thus learning in the process, similar to how I learnt english and my country’s language. Really, I don’t need to be an expert, just good enough to enjoy everything without too many hindrances, haha.

            Well, thanks very much for your replies. I hope you’ll have it good henceforth 😛

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