China has had an early start to the digital book era, but there are gaps in the industry which the government is hoping to close as it encourages the digitization of content. Foreign companies such as Amazon.com are also hoping to capitalize on the growing Chinese interest in e-books.
According to a report by China Daily on Wednesday, the country's e-publishing market was worth 137.7 billion yuan (US$21.7 billion) in 2011. This market is growing because 38.6 percent of Chinese people aged 18 to 70 read using electronic book readers, while "hundreds of millions of people" read books on their mobile phones, said Liu Binjie, director of the General Administration of Press and Publications, in the report.
"We're at a key stage of the switch to the digital age," Liu noted.
He added that there are industry gaps though as its start in digital books was spearheaded by tech companies instead of book publishers. This leaves a chasm between content providers and service platforms, the director said.
Companies such as Amazon.com are hoping to close this gap though, with company vice president Jon Fine saying he was "attracted" to publishing in other languages such as Chinese and it wants to establish a great collaboration in bringing its books to the country and to bring Chinese stories to other markets.
"I saw incredible focus and attention at every level on digitalization in China. The policymakers, publishers, authors, readers, everybody is thinking about it," Fine told China Daily.