The scene of online reading and, more recently, mobile reading witnessed dramatic change this year. The competition among online literature sites went nuclear and e-publishing platforms continued their efforts to perfect reading experiences for users.
Here we summarized a list for major events of the online reading industry:
- In March, founder and core team of Qidian, an online original literature platform under Shanda’s Cloudary, engineered an exodus from Shanda.
- The team obtained Tencent’s investment in May and officially announced Chuangshi, a sub-site under Tencent. Shanda hit back somehow at what they regard as betrayal by filing litigation against Luo Li, co-founder of Qidian, for possible embezzlement.
- Baidu released Wenku Digital Platform and online literature web Duokoo in June.
- Sina spun off reading channel into an independent literature company.
- Amazon Kindle devices finally landed in China and celebrate the one year anniversary.
- Tencent also took the wraps off the long-awaited Tencent Literature in September, which includes three major divisions of Chuangshi, feminine literature-focused Yunqi and a digital publishing platform for best-sellers.
- In addition to e-publishing platform Duokan, Xiaomi launched Xiaomi Xiaoshuo, a new homemade e-reader app on its MIUI app store.
- Online literature site 17K launched strategic cooperation with Chuangshi in December
- Baidu planned to acquire PW Literature (Zongheng.com), the online reading arm of Chinese online game developer and operator Perfect World for approximately RMB191.5 million ($32 mn).
Internet companies swarmed into online literature sector, because literature is on the upstream of entertainment industry. The development of online literature will open up more cooperation opportunities with film, gaming and animation industry, according to Chen Wu, vice president of Tencent. He predicted that the value of literature industry will total 10 billion yuan, exceeding 100 billion yuan together with the output of related industries.
The market scene is transforming from the dominance of one single company to the rise of numerous players. Several latecomers backed by deep-pocketed Internet giants are challenging the once dominating online literature brand Shanda Cloudary. The market share of Shanda Cloudary is estimated to slump from more than 70% to around 50% to 30% in the future three years, according to an industry insider (via Sina Tech).
As we reported earlier here and here, e-publishing in China isn’t just uploading digital text files onto a website and introducing a digital payment solution. One of the major problems with e-publishing in China is that conventional publishing organizations don’t provide with well-formatted files. Both domestic e-publishing platforms and Kindle are trying to address this problem.
The China mobile reading market in 2012 was about RMB 5.6 billion ($900-ish million), with a 30% growth, according research results from Imedia Research Group.