Muschamp Rd

Online book sales in China

July 30th, 2006
China

When I interviewed with Amazon.com, one of the questions I asked them was about their Chinese strategy. I’ve lived in a lot of places and while I was living abroad in Germany and Japan, Amazon was a big deal. Amazon.co.jp can be accessed in English or you can have books shipped to Japan from the main site or Canadian one which is more expensive.

Now in China you don’t hear much about Amazon but you do hear about Google or Microsoft even Apple. Books like a lot of things are cheaper in China but quality varies and there is a high level of intellectual property theft. I blogged about my late night encounter with a man and his book cart resulted in me purchasing “The Brothers Karamazov”.

Amazon told me their China strategy was acquisition based. They bought Joyo.com for 72 million dollars. I’d never heard of that company assuming that is the one Russell was referring to, but I don’t surf the web much in Chinese. However I just read over at China Venture News that Dang Dang is the leading online bookseller in China since 1999. This seems to contradict the Search Engine Journal piece stating the Joyo.com is the “largest online retailer of books, music, and videos“.

I did some Googling but I wasn’t able to turn up much. There is of course, a state run book seller which supposedly controls 50% of the total book market in China. Statistics in general and Chinese statistics in particular are often unreliable.

Update: The Chinese system of one party and heavy government involvement even direct control of enterprises has been in the news a lot lately. The Chinese government also protects their home market, one of the largest in the world from foreign competition, which has allowed companies like Tencent and Alibaba to grow. They also have their own online payment systems (Alipay, WeChat Wallet) and credit card processing systems (UnionPay). This ecosystem combined with the omnipresence and heavily monitored and censored WeChat makes selling online in China unlike anywhere else.

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