By Tan Xin
In 2012, China's digital reading and publishing have continued to grow at a rapid pace, so much so that the total volume of China's digital publication is now the second largest in the world. Ecommerce sites and telecommunication operators have made their ways into the digital publishing industry, and there are more and more smart reading equipments. Experts predict that digital publishing will welcome in a phase of explosive growth.
On the national press and publication work meeting held on January 4, Liu Binjie, director of the General Administration of Press and Publication, revealed that in 2012, China's publication, printing, and issuance services achieved revenue of RMB 1.65 trillion Yuan, growing 13.6 percent over 2011. Digital publishing has developed at a forceful pace.
More players joining the competition
Ecommerce sites' entry into the field of electronic books has been the hottest topic of the industry in 2012. On February 20, 2012, 360buy.com announced the going online of its ebook platform. On July 15, 2012, Dangdang released its ebook reader. Amazon put its ebook platform online quietly on December 13. It is told that Amazon's China site offers free download of its Kindle reader software; more than 30,000 books have been put on the shelf of its ebook store, 800 of them free of charge. According to industrial experts, Kindle's entry into China will bring in international operation model that will help to standardize the market. The rise of several ebook platforms give content providers more choices and say in negotiation, kicking of the competition among digital reading platforms.
In 2012, telecommunication operators have also made vigorous efforts to establish themselves in the digital reading industry. China Unicom has upgraded its reading base technology platform and its operation support platform, operated them separately, and adopted Taobao's model to work closely with content providers. China Telecom has started corporate separate operation of new base in the digital reading field. The rapid growth of Duokan ebook store and iReader provides participants a glimpse of the opportunities of digital publishing. Li Yanyan, an analyst of Analysys who has long been watching the digital publishing industry, believes that currently mobile reading suppliers are busy improving product user experience and the industry is still at the stage of turf expansion and cultivation user's paid behavior.
"On deed speaks more loudly than 100 words", said Li Xiaoqi, deputy director of the Copyrights Department of China Publishing Group Digital Media Company Limited, "Generally speaking, it's cheering that most publishers have started digital publishing work in 2012. Everyone has emerged from the stage of observation, brooding, and discussion and gone into practical operation".
Explosive growth can be expected
"In 2013，there will be breakthroughs, or even explosive growth, in China's digital publishing market", said Tan Yiping, president of QikPg, who believes that the increasing number of smart reading devices in consumers' hands will drive the explosion of the digital publishing market.
An important part of smart digital reading devices are tablet computers. Some analysis predicts that Apple will sell 100 million iPads in 2013, and about 15 to 25 million of them will be in the Chinese market; besides, Android tablets can also be expected to increase considerably in the Chinese market. "By the end of 2013, the Chinese will own 40 to 50 million tablets of all types", said Tan Yiping. Then, there are smartphones. According to statistics from the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology, from January to November 2012, the number of China's mobile phone 3G subscribers saw a net increase of 92.062 million, and most of these subscribers use smartphones.
In terms of industrial administration, regulatory departments have revised and promulgated Temporary Rules of Online Publishing Service Management, Management Methods of Digital Content Delivery Platforms, Management Methods of Mobile Phone Media Publishing Service, and Management Methods of Internet Literature Publishing Service, among others. In Tan Yiping's opinion, the government's policy support is a powerful propeller of the market-based progress of the digital publishing market. "We are glad to see that support to China's digital publishing and cultural & creative industries has increased year by year, and this will release huge creativities and initiative", said Tan Yiping.
As for market segmentation, in May 2012, all the 6 sets of children's interactive ebooks introduced by 61.com made their ways into AppStore's top 10 free apps; among these, The Secret of La Zi and Whispering Tree Holes won the 4th and 5th places respectively. Meanwhile, efforts to construct electronic schoolbags and digital education online are being increased all around the country. Li Xiaoqi believes that the education sector has always been a field regarded favorably by people from the digital publishing industry, and children's digital reading platforms and digital education platform will go up vertically in 2013.