WeChat, China’s most popular chat app, rolled out e-book app Weixin Dushu, or WeChat Read, yesterday. The app allows users to share their reading lists and experiences with WeChat friends, and is currently only available on the iOS platform.
WeChat is one of China’s most popular destinations for news reading, but the new app is dedicated for more voracious readers who prefer books. The service will allow WeChat users to read books in EPUB or TXT formats with a clean and ad-free interface.
Weixin Dushu includes a WeChat Moment-like content sharing platform where users can browse through the reading list of WeChat friends and share reading suggestions.
The app has also integrated “Leaderboard” and “Like”, two existing gamification features that have proven successful in WeChat Sport and Games. It also counts how long users have spent on reading in the app and turns it into a social competition, complete with a daily leaderboard that covers all your WeChat friends who have also opted in. Of course, you can close the service if you don’t want to share your reading list or compete with others.
The platform now has books cover a wide range of categories from fiction, history, biography to social science. Currently all the books listed in the enclosed e-book store are copyrighted content from third-party publishers, which are free to read or sold for tens of RMB.
Given the fast expansion of the WeChat platform into payments, it is a little disappointing that WeXin Dushu now only supports payment through Apple ID, and not WeChat payment, which is more popular among Chinese users.
Tencent, the parent company of WeChat, has been gearing up to explore the online publishing industry in recent years. The internet giant has joined up with Cloudary, the online publishing business of Shanda, earlier this year to become the largest online book publisher in China.