Kindle's future in China is in doubt after it disappears from online shelves - TechCrunch

Kindles future in China is in doubt after it disappears

Since Kindle began shipping in China nearly nine years ago, the ebook giant has become a loyal fan in the country. The journey has never been easy, thanks to regulatory barriers around digital content. Recently, there have been signs that the Amazon - owned ebook business is taking back some of its operations in China.

The official Kindle store on Tmall, Alibaba's online shopping center, closed in October. Chinese versions of the ebook tool are currently out of stock on Amazon.cn, the company's local site for China. Its official store on JD.com is still up but most of its tools are out of stock. Some models are still available in their official WeChat store.

In a statement to TechCrunch, an Amazon spokesperson said that some Kindle models are "currently sold out in China" but consumers can still buy Kindle through "third-party retailers on online and offline. ” The company refuses to say why its Alibaba store has closed and why its products are out of stock in China.

“We are committed to serving Chinese customers,” the spokesman said. “Amazon's commitment to providing quality customer service and assurance to its customers remains unchanged. ”

Amazon reportedly shut down the Kindle device team in China back in November, according to a social media post by a reporter at BK Economy, a subsidiary of state - owned Beijing News. Amazon China declined to comment on the alleged layoff.

Axing the tool team would spell out the local hardware end of the ebook. Like iPhone, Kindle has been offering Chinese editions of its devices, which work the same as the American versions but come with aftersales service in China. Closing the hardware unit would also mean that third-party distributors are limited to importing Kindle modules overseas for Chinese customers.

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    An important but challenging market

    As of 2022, China was Kindle 's largest market with double-digit growth, said David Limp, senior vice president of Amazon Devices at the time. Nevertheless, the Chinese ebook market has been very different from the rest of the world in the first place.

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    “If you look at bestseller listings in 90% of the world, e-books - at least at the top of the stack - are the equivalent of digital versions of traditional books. In China, however, traditionally published books, such as traditionally published longer format video content such as TV and movies, are not very interesting because most of them come from publishing houses. state or houses of content that are blocked in the subjects they do. cover, ”said a veteran of the Chinese book industry who declined to be named.

    It is unclear how Kindle has recently succeeded in China and what led it to decide to close its Tmall store. But with the length of time that Kindle has been present in the market and the amount of hardware sold there, it is a reason why there are still a large number of Chinese Kindle owners who will buy and read traditional e-books from Amazon ele Kindle Store.

    The Chinese Kindle bookstore, which is separate from the global one and features a much smaller collection of English books, is still available, so there is no impact on mainstream Kindle owners in China.

    Over the years, Amazon has blocked a number of declining businesses in China while ramping up the growing ones. In 2022, the company closed its online marketplace linking Chinese buyers and sellers, a business that has put it in competition with local titans like Alibaba. Meanwhile, Amazon has been doubling down on its export business in the country, helping Chinese buyers find customers around the world.

    Amazon has come under fire after Reuters reported last month that it had created a portal to submit books submitted by the Chinese government, a project that helped it overcome licensing problems. e-books in China.

    This story develops…

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