Amazon has finally launched its long-awaited Chinese Kindle store, but there’s a catch: the store isn’t actually selling physical Kindles, but instead encourages Chinese users to download customized iOS and Android apps. The store apparently has roughly 22,000 Chinese-language Kindle titles, with no sign so far that indie Kindle books are on the way.
The problem, though, is that reports suggest Amazon didn’t receive regulatory permission from the Chinese government before launching the store. It seems this has been a rather drawn-out process, and Amazon is known to have applied for the relevant license. The Digital Reader claims that Amazon has gone ahead by borrowing a licence previously issued to one of its Chinese partners; whether this tactic is going to win Amazon any friends among Chinese regulators is another matter.
There’s no doubt that Amazon wants to establish itself more fully in the Chinese market. The use of apps to enable Chinese customers to read Kindle titles shouldn’t be a problem given the popularity of smartphones in the country, but a lot depends on how the government views the company’s decision to go ahead with this launch. It’ll be interesting to see whether Amazon manages to get the regulatory agreement it needs, or whether the Chinese government will put up a stronger fight.