Dangdang bides time before e-book plunge
Updated: 2010-12-09 10:34
Dangdang.com, China's biggest online book retailer, is still waiting for a better time to launch e-book services, a branch that may help it catch up with its US counterpart Amazon.com and defend itself in the ever fiercer competition of online bookselling in China.
Roger Huang, chief operating officer of Dangdang, said the company has been following the development of digital books for years, but it is still too early to say when it will enter that market in full swing.
"The time is not ripe," Huang said. Huang has three concerns - the high price of electronic readers, rampant copyright infringement and not enough e-book buyers.
"Electronic readers cost on average about 1,000 yuan ($150) in China, but people can buy up to 50 Chinese books for that," he said.
In the United States, a standard e-book reader is the cost equivalent of about 12 books. That relatively small cost attracts Americans to e-readers, which can store hundreds of books.
Copyright infringement, the biggest concern US-based Amazon.com has about introducing its electronic reader, Kindle, to the Chinese mainland, also concerns Dangdang.
In addition, Dangdang is waiting for more Chinese people to get in the habit of reading online or with electronic devices, Huang said.
Dangdang has long been called "China's Amazon," with many analysts saying it follows in the footsteps of its American counterpart. Like Amazon, the 11-year-old Chinese company first came to the public's attention as an online bookseller. Similarly, in 2008 it partially shifted its focus to general merchandise. Now it shows aspirations of tapping into e-book services.
In early November, Dangdang set up a "Digital Publications Department" to research strategies for future e-book services. Li Guoqing, the company's co-president, personally took charge of the department, indicating its strategic importance.
Huang said the company intends to launch e-books for computers, cell phones and electronic readers, rather than marketing its e-reading device. Its longtime good relationship with Chinese publishing houses and large client pool will help, he said.
Since Nov 1, 360buy.com, China's biggest business to customer (B2C) company, has been expanding its online business from electronics to books, said Shi Tao, vice-president for book purchasing and sales at 360buy. The company has the goal of becoming China's No 1 online bookseller, according to Chinese media reports.
Dangdang.com holds more than 50 percent of China's online book retailing market and has a 10 percent market share of the overall book market, according to a report by the Chinese consulting firm Analysys International.
1. Who is China's biggest online book retailer?
2. How much are e-readers in China?
3. How about in the US?
2. They cost on average about 1,000 yuan ($150) in China, but people can buy up to 50 Chinese books for that.
3. A standard e-book reader is the cost equivalent of about 12 books.
（中国日报网英语点津 Helen 编辑）
About the broadcaster:
Nelly Min is an editor at China Daily with more than 10 years of experience as a newspaper editor and photographer. She has worked at major newspapers in the U.S., including the Los Angeles Times and the Detroit Free Press. She is also fluent in Korean.
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