It seems that the Chinese e-reader industry is ready to take off, but the industry's future depends on the contents provided by publishers. The good news is an increasing number of publishers are making a push into the emerging business. But they have yet to find a proven path to profitability for e-books in China. In recent interviews with Beijing Review reporter Ding Wenlei, four Beijing-based publishers talked about moves they have made, as well as the prospects for e-books in China. Edited excerpts follow:
Li Xinshe, Editor-in-Chief of the Publishing House of lectronics Industry:
The vibrant growth of e-books is bringing unlimited opportunities to traditional publishing industry. But when turning paper books into electronic ones, you have to take into consideration the reading habits of consumers, and design and market the books to cater to their specific needs.
I do not think e-books will cast a shadow over traditional books, since they are just different forms of information carriers. Traditional publishers are supposed to take full advantage of opportunities to consolidate their market foothold. Maybe in three to five years, those who miss the opportunities will end up losing ground.
Riding the wave of e-books, we have established an electronic publishing center this year. But it will be quite difficult to break even, due to a fledgling market. In the United States, which boasts a long history of Internet access, there is a solid customer base that will pay for e-book downloads. But in China we should have patience.