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Amazon To Close Kindle Bookstore In China

The Kindle dominates the market for e-reading devices in China but the overall size of the market has been falling / Zuma Press. Amazon said...

The Kindle dominates the market for e-reading devices in China but the overall size of the market has been falling / Zuma Press.
Amazon said Thursday it will stop selling titles in China on its Kindle ebook shop on June 30, 2023, and customers will no longer be able to download already-purchased books a year later. The company said it has already halted sales of the device to third-party sellers and is offering refunds to anyone who bought a Kindle in China after Jan. 1.

The pullback is the latest for American tech giants operating in China, which has some of the world’s most stringent censorship rules and a fiercely competitive homegrown technology ecosystem. Last year, Microsoft Corp.’s LinkedIn shut down its social-media service in China, citing “a significantly more challenging operating environment and greater compliance requirements in China.” Airbnb Inc. plans to close its domestic business in China after harsh Covid-19 lockdowns in the country compounded the pain from mounting local competition.

Amazon has been retrenching for years in China’s tough domestic market. In 2019, Amazon discontinued its third-party online marketplace and cut seller services on its Chinese website, effectively surrendering its core online retail business to the country’s domestic e-commerce titans. Amazon on Thursday said it would continue to operate its international e-commerce business, called Amazon Global Store, in China, along with its advertising, logistics and cloud business.

“Amazon China’s long-term commitment to customers will not change,” Amazon said in a post on its WeChat social media page. “We have established a broad business base in China and will continue to innovate and invest.”

Although the Kindle dominates the market for e-reading devices in China, the overall size of the market has been falling in recent years as smartphone and tablet technology has improved, increasing their appeal as alternatives to e-readers.

Competition has also increased from next-generation devices that combine features of tablets and e-readers and made by domestic rivals such as Huawei Technologies Co. and iFlytek Co., said Ivan Lam, an analyst at tech market-research firm Counterpoint Research.

Last year, Amazon’s Kindle represented 65% of China’s e-reader market, well ahead of Xiaomi Corp.’s Duokan and iReader Technology Co.’s device, which tied for second place with 10% of the market, according to Counterpoint. Mr. Lam said e-readers represented about 7% to 8% of reading activity in China, with Kindle containing the largest bookstore in China with at least 700,000 titles.

However, overall e-reader sales last year fell 12.5% to 2.1 million units, with another decline expected this year, Mr. Lam said. “It’s still the leader in the sector, but it’s declining rapidly,” Mr. Lam said of the Kindle.