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Chinese choose new frontiers when reading(2)

2014-04-22 16:52 Xinhua Web Editor: Gu Liping

Former journalist-turned product manager Zuo Zhijian started MZ Read, a reading application run on iOS and Google's Android platforms. It tries to bring readers together by offering them a social networking platform solely focused on reading serious content.

"Printed books can no longer suffice, in its portability, spreading scale and the quality of content," said Zuo, adding people's not buying printed books does not mean they are abandoning reading.

According to Zuo, his team has received several million yuan from investors, a sign that "in a world of information overload, to know what readers really want is the key for further development."

Wei Yushan, who heads CAPP research, said Chinese people spend more time reading digital content, on smartphones, tablets and reading devices. "Convenient access to digital content is the primary reason that Chinese people read on their phones and electronic devices," said Wei.

The market is not short of competitors. Duokan.com and Douban.com, two major e-book service providers in China, both offer content on iOS and Android platforms as well as on Amazon's Kindle device.

Before the online sales company brought its Kindle to China, many Chinese customers were able to buy the device from overseas via e-commerce platform Taobao.

Because of a prevalent pirated e-book market, many analysts expected Amazon to incur heavy losses.

However, Amazon announced earlier this year that its Kindle business started making profits in China.

Kurt Beidler, head of Amazon's Kindle Content Unit in China, said at a press conference in January that Amazon and publishers would work together to expand the e-book market and win people over from online games, web browsing and online chatting.


Still, many people do prefer reading, even the country's top leaders. Reading is part of my life, said Chinese President Xi Jinping in an interview with Russian media, adding he read and clearly remembered the plots of Russian writers' works, including Pushkin, Gogol and Turgenev.

In a government report at the just ended National People's Congress in March, Premier Li Keqiang also vowed to motivate people to read.

One beneficiary is Sanlian Taofen Bookstore, whose 24-hour trial since April 8 has been so successful that even its manager Fan Xi'an said they received unexpected customer flow.

Fan also said that the 24-hour initiative was supported by a government subsidy scheme from the State Administration of Press, Publication, Film and Television and the Ministry of Finance.

According to an official with the finance ministry, the scheme, which covered 56 bookstores in 12 cities, will be expanded.

Zuo Zhijian's MZ Read is also expanding. "Quality content is always what drives people to read," said Zuo.

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