Pirated Japanese novels become best sellers on Apple store

Japan’s always boisterous media is up in arms with what are being called ”unauthorised Chinese translations” of several popular Japanese novels, including works by international hero-artist Haruki Murakami, being sold as e-books on Apple’s online store.

The Asahi newspaper says that digital versions of Murakami’s “1Q84″ and of crime novels by Keigo Higashino were being sold without the authors’ permission for a few hundred yen (a few American dollars) each. This does sit not well with Japan’s publishing community, and legal action is planned, the Asahi says.

Higashino says he has never allowed any of his books to be marketed in a digital format, and he’s hopping mad.

“Of those (books) translated into Chinese, dozens of my works appear to have been converted into digital books illegally,” he told Japanese media at a recent press conference.

“As a copyright holder, I have asked Apple to delete them and am waiting for their response.”

So who’s doing this funny business under the table? China in simplified Chinese characters or Taiwan with complex Chinese characters? Well, so far, the Taipei publisher of an ”authorised Chinese translation” of Murakami’s “1Q84″ has denied any involvement and insists that one of the e-books sold on Apple’s App Store was in fact a ”pirated” version of its legal translation. China is staying mum.

But is someone inside Communist China responsible for this tempest in an Asian teapot? Nobody is talking yet. Apple is mum, too.

The App Store, which sells digital books that can be viewed on an iPhone or iPad mobile device, says that Murakami’s three-volume “1Q84” became an intant bestseller at the App Store and has since been translated into Korean and Chinese.

But a spokesperson for Apple did not specify whether the translations were in simplified Chinese characters for the Beijing market or in complex Chinese characters for the Taiwanese market.

And there’s a huge difference between the two writing sytems, as old China and Taiwan hands know. Japan is in a fighting mode and wants justice for what is sees as piracy on the
high internet seas.