Rumors have circulated for some time that Taobao Read (our translation), the digital publishing business of Alibaba Group, was dissolved last month. An anonymous Taobao Read employee and other people close to the matter have confirmed the closure at Zhihu.com, a Quora-like Q&A and content sharing platform. The Taobao Read app and published e-books currently are still available.

It’s unknown what the next steps will be, but what is certain is that Alibaba’s digital publishing service, unlike its Taobao and Tmall marketplaces, has not turned out to be the go-to place for digital content for Chinese consumers.

In 2010 Alibaba launched Taohua, a marketplace for digital videos, books and magazines. Taobao Read, formerly Taohua Book Mall (our translation) was the part of it available on the web and on Android and iOS at the time. As the Taobao marketplace for physical goods had been in place for several years, Taohua was considered a natural step.

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Tracey Xiang

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