Digital comics coming to the Wii in Japan

Four of Japan's biggest comic book publishers are coming together to bring digital versions of their magazines to Nintendo's Wii console.

Four of Japan's biggest comic book -- or 'manga' -- publishers are coming together to bring digital versions of their magazines to Nintendo's Wii console.

The companies, Kadokawa, Kodansha, Shueisha and Shogakukan, have formed a joint venture with a local software house that aims to be the first to bring digital comics to the hit console. The venture, called Librica, was formed in July and will deliver comics through the Wii Ware software channel to users. An Internet connection will be required to use the service.

Initially it will target the Wii but Librica said it is considering expanding the service goal to encompass the handheld DS gaming device. It will also offer other publishers the chance to join its platform when launched.

Launch timing and pricing for the service was not announced.

Comic books are hugely popular in Japan. In 2006 sales of comic books totalled YEN 481 billion (US$4.47 billion) and accounted for 22 percent of the sales volume and 37 percent of copies of the entire magazine industry. However the industry has been declining and 2006 marked its fifth year of contraction, according to data from the Research Institute for Publications.

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