Tencent, US firm join on e-books

Updated: 2015-03-12 10:48

By Amy He in New York(China Daily USA)

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Chinese readers' tastes are aligning more with US readers', and there is a growing demand for Chinese-language books from the Chinese community in the US, said the CEO of an American company that connects e-book publishers with distributors.

"There are two factors to consider: the increase in popularity of people reading on mobile devices, that's driving part of the demand," said Jim Bryant, chief executive of Trajectory, a Boston-based network that partners with e-book distributors to help them acquire new titles. "I think awareness is the other, so that when people become aware that Chinese-language books are available through their favorite place to buy books, then there's a likelihood they'll be buying more."

Bryant spoke with China Daily on Tuesday after Boston-based Trajectory jointly announced with Internet giant Tencent that it will be partnering with the company's online book service to export Tencent Literature's 200,000-book catalog.

The companies seek to cater to an ever-growing international demand for Chinese-language titles outside China. The partnership will also export Trajectory's titles to reach Tencent's base of over 820 million active users.

"Trajectory is providing Tencent Literature with the unique opportunity to convert and deliver our most popular eBooks to previously untouched markets," said Li Luo, vice-president of Tencent Literature, in a statement.

Bryant said that the overarching goal is to help Tencent monetize the content they already have and to provide more revenue to its database of authors to help build brands globally. Tencent's goal is to create awareness for its authors, he said.

Tencent's catalogue is largely literature that covers anything from "traditional stories" to light versions of romantic fiction, Bryant said, whereas Trajectory's titles are largely academic and more classic books.

"It's involved a fair amount of testing different theories we had on which markets would be more suitable for certain types of titles and really how to position these within the e-book retailers and the library distributors that are presenting these to schools and readers," he said.

For example, one of the company's best-selling titles last week in the US was the Chinese version of The Diaries of Anne Frank, and it is currently working with RosettaBooks, an e-book publisher that distributes the Chinese versions of American author Kurt Vonnegut's books.

"What we're seeing right now is more of a reflection of what readers from the US are buying, and a lot of it depends on, again, from the Chinese standpoint, the discoverability," he said, referring to how a person first discovers a book and then identifies other books he or she might be looking for within a collection.

"The best-selling title in China last week was If I'm So Wonderful, Why Am I Single? So it's similar tastes, I think," he said. "And what's really cool about this is that I look at this as a cross-cultural exchange, and this is actually this is something that we're finding out, is that we all have a lot in common."

Founded in 2012, Trajectory also has an office in Beijing, which opened at the same time as its Boston location, reflecting the country's importance to the company's strategy, Bryant said.

"China is core to our whole strategy right now. We have a development team that's based there that's helping us interact with Chinese publishers," he said.


(China Daily USA 03/12/2015 page1)