Apple is making moves with its e-book retailing abroad. The tech giant has launched its iBookstore in Japan, while pushing a campaign highlighting self-published books in Ireland and the U.K.

The Japanese iBookstore went live with titles from major and indie publishers in the country, including adokawa, Gakken and Gentosha. With this expansion into Japan, Apple now has an iBookstore in 51 countries. Apple also noted, in its release about the opening, that its iBooks apps (for its devices the iPhone, iPod and iPad) have been downloaded, globally, 130 million times.

In other international efforts, Apple has begun spotlighting self-published titles. As indie e-book distributor Smashwords posted on its blog, Apple has been promoting these titles through an effort called Breakout Books in the U.S.,and that has now been expnded to England and Ireland. After last week's e-mail to customers, which promoted a selection of self-published titles that Smashwords said were "selected by Apple’s merchandising teams in each market," a Breakout Books section is appearing on the iBookstore homepage in the U.K. and Ireland.

The promotion, as the Smashwords post also notes, speaks to Apple's interest in pushing self-published authors as "such high profile merchandising attention has historically been limited to large, long-established publishers."