Kindle Store, with iOS and Android apps, launches in China

There’s no Chinese-language Kindle e-reader yet, but Amazon (s AMZN) has launched a Chinese Kindle store with Android (s GOOG) and iOS (s AAPL) apps for reading ebooks.

The Chinese Kindle store will compete with Chinese e-commerce giant Dangdang, which has sold ebooks since December 2011. Dangdang’s collection includes around 100,000 ebooks, and the company recently says it expects to sell more ebooks than print books within three years. China is a tricky but potentially highly lucrative market for foreign publishers.

Reuters reports that “In June, four Kindle models, including the Kindle Touch and Kindle Fire and as well as one Kindle keyboard, received approval from the State Radio Regulation of China, the regulatory body for radio and wireless products. Amazon’s former China chief told Reuters this year that the company was in talks with Chinese publishers on content deals and hoped to launch the Kindle within two years.” But Amazon has gone ahead and launched the store in the absence of a dedicated reading device.

steve jobs chinese bookI explored the Chinese Kindle store with the help of Google Translate, so take this all with a few grains of salt, but some notes:

  • The store includes 24,479 ebooks.
  • The top-selling book is Rip It Up by British pop psychologist Richard Wiseman. In Chinese its title appears to translate to Positive Energy. In the #2 slot is the Nobel Prize-winning Life and Death are Wearing Me Out by Mo Yan.
  • Most prices are very low compared to ebook prices in the U.S. and Europe: A special section of the store breaks out a weekly selection of books for ¥1.99 (USD $0.32) or less. Rip It Up sells at ¥3.99 (USD $0.64) and Life and Death are Wearing Me Out at ¥3.49 (USD $0.56). By comparison, Steve Jobs’ biography, featured on the Chinese Kindle store’s home page, is a big investment at ¥40.70 (USD $6.53). If that’s too much, there’s a multitude of other Steve Jobs ebooks, many with covers that blatantly rip off Walter Isaacson’s biography, for sale under ¥10.