China’s eBook Explosion

The first time I visited China in 1999, we visited Book City in Shanghai. It was the largest bookstore I’d seen—ever! Book City had several floors with elevators and escalators, and at each floor I had to wait in line to get on the next escalator up.

It was that busy. Bookstore owners in the US only get to dream of such traffic.

Most of the books were by Chinese authors and written in Chinese. One small segment on the fourth floor offered books from the rest of the world and most were in English.

Then, for a few years, bookstores owned by private companies—not state owned—sprouted like mushrooms, but today, as in the United States, those brick and mortar bookstores may be struggling to survive.

The Independent in the UK said, “Hard times for traditional books as China’s digital publishing industry grows. Pity the poor paperback. The days of the traditional book in China are numbered, according to figures just released by the central government, it seems more and more people are now turning their attention to digital forms of publishing.”

And the Chinese are buying eBooks with a passion, as you may witness from the next embedded video.

It you have never been to China, you should not be surprised, because China has had a thriving publishing industry for longer than a thousand years and more than 95% of its population is literate. reported (March 30, 2015), “The eBook market, and in particular the English language eBook market, in China is still in its infancy but the scope and impact of eBooks in China is evolving at an incredible pace.” In addition, Digital says, “China’s book market is growing fast. And ebooks in particular are on the rise thanks largely to the worldwide mobile boom impacting publishers everywhere.”

After all, the Chinese invented paper and the printing press centuries before it appeared in Europe. In China, the printing press was invented during the Tang Dynasty between the 4th and 7th century AD. In Europe, Gutenberg’s movable type press didn’t appear until about 1450 AD—the Chinese beat the West by about a thousand years with this innovation (hundreds of other). Computer


Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of My Splendid Concubine [3rd edition]. When you love a Chinese woman, you marry her family and culture too. This is the lusty love story Sir Robert Hart did not want the world to discover.

2015 Promotion Image for My Splendid Concubine

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