Duokan, the digital book company Xiaomi announced to acquire last year, now is a one-year-old. Although starting as an alternative Kindle system for Chinese reading, now it looks pretty confident as an e-book platform and seems not afraid of Amazon Kindle’s entering China.

At its first anniversary, Duokan executives disclosed some metrics,

  • The app, available on Android, iOS and Kindle, has reached 10 million installs.
  • There are more than four thousand books on the platform. Duokan’s goal is 20 thousand by the end of 2013 that will cover 80% of China’s digital book market.
  • On average, users spend 10 minutes per time browsing and read as long as 2 hours per day.
  • 2 million books are opened per day.
  • 46% paying users would purchase again.

Now there are Duokan books including videos. The company will launch audio books soon. When asked about the hardware plan, Duokan executives said they always had such a plan.

sub-channel for works from third-party online original literature sites was launched on March 28 this year. Works from Qidian, the largest site of this kind, will be added soon.

Duokan now has a BBS for readers to report bugs or content errors. The company plans to developing social and recommendation features for the platform.

As we discussed earlier that one of the major problems with e-publishing in China is that conventional publishing organizations don’t provide with well-formatted files. For the redesign and editing, Duokan has an editor team of 70-plus — about half of Duokan’s 150+plus employees. But all the redesigned digital books will surely become a treasure for Duokan.

Duokan also has a small team working on redesigning print magazines. Any magazine to get onto Duokan platform has to agree on a redesign for the sake of digital reading experience. Duokan also tries to convince every mag to offer content for free in order to promote the superior reading experience brought over by the redesign.

Some time in 2012, Hu Xiaodong, vice president of Duokan disclosed that 3 million, out of 7 million registered users, were paying users. The platform pays copyright holders about 70% of book sales. Hu concluded that one million paying users could help Duokan break even.

Actually it’s the fourth year after the founding team decided to work on a digital reading platform and tens of millions yuan has been invested in since then. Wang Chuan, CEO of Doukan, is one of the seven founding members of Xiaomi, and Leijun, CEO of Xiaomi, has been involved in Duokan from day one.

And it isn’t only operating a digital book platform but also the visible hand behind Xiaomi Box, a set-top box that can stream online videos. As I speculated earlier, it, eventually, may become an iTunes-like platform for Xiaomi phones.

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

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