Tmall Reader app launched by Alibaba for Chinese e-readers

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Tmall has just launched an e-book app ‘Tmall Reader’, developed with Alibaba Literature, Alibaba‘s online business unit dedicated to the written word. It’s hoping to tap into the growing trend of e-reading in China.

The app, now available for download from both iOS and Android app stores, offers access to titles, ranging from business and children’s stories to Chinese translations of popular foreign authors. The collection will expand as titles from the nearly 3,000 booksellers and 300 publishers on the platform are added to the app.

“We’re confident that, in the future, Tmall Reader will have the most-extensive and most-comprehensive e-book [library] in terms of categories, subjects or volume.”
– Li Zhiqian, CEO, Alibaba Literature

Tmall will focus on improving the Tmall Reader app experience for users and publishers with plans to launch new features on the app soon, including audiobooks, reader communities and forums for discussion. The app will also leverage analytics from users so that authors can better understand their audience.

It should be no real surprise to see Alibaba launch an e-book app having seen the success of Amazon’s Kindle in the West. As users buy more books for their devices it ties them into the ecosystem and Amazon give away literature for free to those willing to pay a subscription under their Prime Reading benefit.

What is interesting and not often talked about is that since 2015 Amazon themselves have shops on Alibaba’s Tmall and naturally also sell the Kindle alongside a wide selection of other products. Amazon do have a country site in China, but Alibaba is all pervasive and it would appear Amazon are using Tmall to build brand acceptance in China.

At the time of opening their shop, a Tmall spokesperson said “We welcome Amazon to the Alibaba ecosystem, and their presence will further broaden the selection of products and elevate the shopping experience for Chinese consumers on Tmall.”

The race is now on to see if consumers prefer a Kindle or Kindle app reading experience or whether the home grown Tmall Reader for Android an IOS will win through.

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