Dangdang, one of the leading online book retailers in China, made 3 million Yuan in digital book sales in 2012 but spent approaching 5 million Yuan in formatting text files received from conventional publishers, according to Wang Xi, vice president of the company. He complained that what they got were half-products is frustrating.

Chinese publishers or other content providers would simply send e-book sellers plain text. Dangdang spends 100 – 200 Yuan on reorganizing the layout of an average book and up to 1000 Yuan for well-designed picture books. Some digital book retailers, such as Tangcha and Duokan, may spend more on redesigning every single book, purchasing fonts and the like.

If 5 million Yuan isn’t a big deal for a book seller like Dangdang, it must be a huge cost burden to everyone that wants to offer up to millions of digital titles.

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Tracey Xiang

Tracey Xiang is Beijing, China-based tech writer. Reach her at traceyxiang@gmail.com