Kindle CN store among the few survivors as Amazon crashes out in China

Jeff Bezos has on many occasions said he welcomes failure, because failure helps the company rethink and revitalise.

That’s not a luxury every company has, but then most companies aren’t Amazon. From the Firephone to holidays to diapers, not everything Jeff Bezos touches turns to gold.

This week comes news that the latest admission of defeat is Amazon’s China marketplace venture.

For the history and background to this, check out these overviews from The Verge and the Wall Street Journal, among many.

What concerns us here is the news that AWS will continue and so, for now at least, will the Kindle China store.

The what?

If you’re an author or publisher using Amazon’s KDP to find a global readership you could be forgiven for thinking there was no Kindle CN store, but in fact Amazon has been selling ebooks in China since 2013.

There are ways in – even for indie authors – but that’s for another time.

Here just to note that, in a market expected to be worth $5.3 billion next year, the Kindle store is a small player, that has chosen not to embrace the Chine digital reading model in any meaningful way.

As Amazon launches Prime Reading in China, a predicted $5.3 bn valuation will make the China ebook market far bigger than the US by 2020

A 2018 report suggested China’s reading apps collectively have 300 million MAUs – close to the entire online population of the USA.

But Amazon has never really ventured beyond its original remit of selling ebooks by the unit, and that has left the Kindle CN store trailing its many rivals.

In 2016 Amazon introduced Kindle Unlimited in China, and in 2018 added Prime Reading, but still on the one book model.

As this chart shows, the Kindle app simply isn’t on the radar of most Chinese digital reading fans.

And as Walk The Chat notes,

China (repeatedly) demonstrates its ability to come up with innovative business models (unlimited subscriptions, point-based systems, gamification) and growth strategies (social sharing, viral loops) compared to Western counterparts.

In closing, this post being about digital reading in China, I leave you with these speculative posts about the wider China book market.

China ended 2018 with 225,000 bookstores and a $55 billion valuation. Has China usurped the US as the world’s largest publishing market?

Is China now the biggest book market, redux. Alibaba says 30 million new Chinese readers were added in 2018

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