A Japanese virtual bookstore said Tuesday it would put online the works of "Astroboy" creator Osamu Tezuka, the father of manga comics. Papyless, which sells digital versions of books, said it was teaming up with copyright holder Tezuka Production to upload at least 448 stories from the prolific late cartoonist.
Tezuka, sometimes called Japan's Walt Disney, pioneered the country's now massive manga industry, drawing stories whose characters were often fantastical with exaggerated physical features.
He died in 1989. Papyless will offer Tezuka comics including "Astroboy," Japan's best-known comic series relating the adventures of a robot-boy in a futuristic universe. Others works to go online will include "Black Jack," the tales of a doctor, and "New Treasure Island."
Papyless, whose website is www.papy.co.jp/, said in a statement it would put the works online from March 18. It will cost 105 yen, or about one dollar, to read a volume over 48 hours. Buying the work online will cost 315 yen per volume. Digital books have become a growing market in Japan, with several online companies teaming up with publishers to upload works of various genres.
Papyless has some 80,000 titles online. Another growing market in Japan is for novels written specifically for mobile telephones.
Half of Japan's top-selling novels last year were originally cellphone novels, which employ short phrases and "emoticon" symbols to adapt to the small screens.