About nine years ago, when Amazon.com (AMZN.US) entered China, the multinational e-retailer was more or less in the same starting line as Alibaba or Jingdong.
But years on, Alibaba and Jingdong have spurted in front, accounting for nearly 75 percent of the country’s e-retail market. Hampered by poor logistics and slow supply chain development, Amazon China has been a laggard in the online shopping market.
Where Amazon has a clear edge is in the e-book retail business. Its top-selling Kindle e-reader has carved a niche for itself, promising a much brighter future for the company.
When Amazon China introduced the electronic ink display reader in June, it had misgivings about its prospects because of rampant piracy that could dampen consumer interest in genuine e-books, Sina Technology portal quoted an insider as saying. The anxiety was misplaced.
Kurt Beidler, vice president of Amazon China, told Sina Technology that Kindle’s progress in the country is inspiring. Figures on average purchase and e-book downloads are close to those in its more established markets. In less than six months, Kindle turned a profit in the mainland, he said.
Kindle’s success is trickling down to its domestic publishing partners which are benefiting from the growing popularity of the devices. Buoyant sales of Kindle-readable books have helped spur sales of their paperback editions.
CITIC Press Group said e-books sales tripled in the third quarter from the first three months of the year.
That said, the best is yet to come. Judging by the experience in the US, Beidler expects a surge in e-book sales from the third year after Kindle’s debut. He said the Chinese e-book market will go the way of its US counterpart. At present, Amazon is focused on speeding up the localization of Kindle in China.
The ultimate prize is the education market where Amazon thinks the next e-revolution will come.
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