The Hong Kong IPO by Tencent’s China Literature, driving on a Chinese e-reader, was a big hit, while e-readers like Amazon Kindle are clearly over their highpoint. Business analyst Shaun Rein explains in CNNMoney why e-readers go like crazy in China.
Compared with other smartphone distractions like video games and streaming TV, e-books may seem a bit low-tech.
But they appeal to many Chinese, as they are subject to less stringent government censorship rules than movies and TV.
“There’s a lot more flexibility and freedom,” said Shaun Rein, managing director of China Market Research in Shanghai. The most popular genres are romance and fantasy, he added.
Rein said that local e-reading platforms are also more popular than foreign entrants, like Amazon’s Kindle. That’s despite the U.S. behemoth’s e-book store having been in China for almost five years.
Apple’s iBooks service in China was abruptly shut down last year, reportedly on government orders.
China Literature’s Qidian.com portal lets users buy individual chapters for the equivalent of a couple of U.S. dollars, rather than forking out for an entire title.
“It’s seen as virtually free and it builds up momentum” for the following chapters, Rein said.
Unlike Amazon’s Kindle Store, the titles on Qidian.com are mostly written by enthusiastic amateurs hoping to strike it rich as the next J.K. Rowling. Part of China Literature’s long-term strategy is licensing out this steady flow of content into other media, like TV series, games and movies.
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