Apple has announced that the iBooks app for iOS has been downloaded 130 million times, as it launches the iBookstore in its next major market - Japan. 

“We’re excited to launch the iBookstore in Japan with a wide selection of Japanese publishers and authors,” said Eddy Cue, Apple’s senior vice-president of internet software and services. “We think customers are going to love how engaging and interactive the books are to read, and how beautiful they look on iPad.”

Apple has launched in Japan with a selection of books from Kodansha, Kadokawa, Bungeishunju, Gakken and Gentosha publishers.

The Japan availability came about in an earlier iBooks 3.1 update, which also brought a number ofi improvements for reading Asian language books, according to the company.

Launched in 2010, the iBookstore is now available in 51 countries. The 130 milestone that Apple has highlighted marks a big success for the company's eBook reading efforts and hints that it is potentially big business.

Last year, the US Department of Justice launched an antitrust lawsuit against Apple and several publishers, claiming the companies were fixing the price of eBooks, forcing customers to pay more than they have to. Apple has stood its ground, saying it hasn't done anything wrong, while several publishers have settled.

Late last month, the company also announced that content for iTunes U, which focus on free educational content, had topped one billion. Apple did not provide specific download information for iBooks.

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