Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) is launching its iBookstore in Japan, bringing its popular e-book store to the country for the first time and featuring titles from numerous local publishers, the company announced today.

Apple's digital e-book storefront is now available in 51 countries and the iPad maker said that its iBooks app has been downloaded 130 million times worldwide.

Interactive e-books on the iPad allow authors to engage with readers in ways not available to traditional text-only e-books. While Apple has long lagged's (NASDAQ:AMZN) catalog in domestic e-book titles, the e-tail giant has less of a first mover advantage in Japan. Amazon first launched its Japanese Kindle Store in October, which includes its Kindle e-reader hardware as well as localized e-books.

Apple continues to expand country availability of its various content stores as complementary offerings to boost device sales, with the Japanese launch of iBooks being the latest example.