Amazon to close China Kindle Store after losing out to domestic rivals

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Amazon to close China Kindle Store after losing out to domestic rivals

2 June 2022 Technology & Digitalization 0

Amazon will close its Chinese ebook store next year, marking the latest retreat as western technology companies scale back operations in the world’s largest consumer market.

Kindle users in China will no longer be able to purchase new books following the closure of its online bookstore in June 2023, Amazon announced on Thursday.

The company said that it had stopped supplying dealers with Kindle eBooks and offered a refund for customers who purchased a device in 2022.

Amazon did not give a reason for its retreat from the Chinese ebook market, once an important source of sales. In 2016, three years after Amazon started selling its devices in China, the country became the largest market for Kindle devices. The company has since lost market share to domestic rivals that launched their own ereader devices, including Xiaomi, iFlytek and Huawei.

Amazon is the latest in a string of Silicon Valley companies to scale back or pull out entirely from the Chinese market. Airbnb said in May it would shut down its China business, citing “pandemic challenges”. Microsoft’s LinkedIn announced the closure of its social networking site in the country last October, replacing it with a stripped-back website listing job postings.

Amazon will leave behind a growing customer base of digital book lovers. More than 500mn Chinese users listened to or read books on a digital device in 2021, according to research by the China Audio-video and Digital Publishing Association. China’s digital reading market generated more than Rmb40bn ($6bn) of sales last year, an increase of more than 18 per cent from 2020.

Jeff Bezos once attempted to crack China’s ecommerce market, entering the country through an acquisition of a local operator. The venture came to an end in 2019 when the ecommerce juggernaut shut down the local marketplace business after Alibaba’s Taobao and ate away at its already small market share.

Amazon will retain a presence in China through its logistics operations and cross-border ecommerce business that connects Chinese merchants to shoppers overseas.

“We remain committed to our customers in China,” the company said. “As a global business, we periodically evaluate our offerings and make adjustments, wherever we operate.” It added it would “continue to innovate and invest where we can provide value to our customers”.

Additional reporting by Arjun Neil Alim and Nian Liu in Beijing