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Chinese Digital Content Retailer Taobao.com Apologizes for Selling Pirated E-books

By Wuping Zhao

SHANGHAI: It is rare for a Chinese e-commerce website to apologize for what it sells in this country. However, Taohua.com, a website that sells digital content in China, apologized yesterday for selling pirated e-books. The homepage of Taohua.com features a statement saying that the company removed 50,231 pirated e-books from its online offerings on Saturday.

Fearing the increase of pirated digital content, few Chinese publishers are willing to cooperate with technology companies to sell their e-books online. Although iPad or other Kindle-like e-readers are now popular in China, few consumers are in the habit of buying e-books online. Pirated versions of most bestselling books in China are available online as pirated e-book editions, even via mainstream portals like Baidu.com and Sina.com.

According to a press release, Taohua.com, launched in June, is a joint venture between Taobao.com and Washu Media Internet Limited. Taohua provides “a digital products platform and interactive digital television shopping to meet the growing needs of Chinese consumers for convenient and high quality shopping experiences. Taohua.com (www.taohua.com) will be China’s first comprehensive digital products platform offering single-stop sharing and purchase of video, e-books, music and other digital entertainment and educational products,” said the statement.

As a subsidiary of trade giant Alibaba group, Taobao is eBay’s rival in China at present. Taobao founder Jack Ma is quoted as saying, “eBay may be a shark in the ocean, but I am a crocodile in the Yangtze river. If we fight in the ocean, we lose, but if we fight in the river we win.” And Taobao, based in Hangzhou, a neighboring city of Shanghai, is ranked number one among the online companies providing B2C service in the country.

Few people knew of Taohua’s existence prior to this weekend when several bestselling authors and their publishers condemned it for selling pirated content online. I browsed its website today and found that pirated e-books by Milan Kundera, Garcia Gabriel Marquez and other authors are still available.

Wuping Zhao is the vice president for Shanghai Translation Publishing House. He graduated from the Columbia University Publishing Course in 2009. Prior to his publishing career, he spent seven years as a book reporter at China Reading Weekly in Beijing.

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2 Comments

  1. Posted November 17, 2010 at 6:09 am | Permalink

    RewriteMan (TM) says:

    Chinese e-seller says ‘sorry’ for hawking pirated e-books — all 50,000 of them!

    Taohua.com, a website that sells digital content inside Communist
    China, recently did something you don’t see too often in China: They
    apologized for selling 50,000 pirated e-books, with a statement
    saying all 50,231 pirated units had been removed from their online
    offerings.

    In a web dispatch from Shanghai, publishing executive Wuping Zhao —
    who graduated from the prestigious Columbia University Publishing
    Course in New York a year ago — noted that pirated versions of most
    bestsellers in China are available online as pirated e-book editions,
    even via mainstream portals like Baidu.com and Sina.com. Add
    Taohua.com to the list.

    According to a press release from Taohua before the trouble ensued, it
    was set up “to provide a digital products platform and interactive
    digital television shopping to meet the growing needs of Chinese
    consumers for convenient and high-quality shopping experiences”. It’s
    also a subsidiary of the Alibaba group, and as such is eBay’s current
    rival in China, according to Zhao.

    Jack Ma, who founded Taohua, is famous for his way with words, among
    other things. Regarding the rivalry with eBay, he’s been quoted as
    saying: “EBay may be a shark in the ocean, but I’m a crocodile in the
    Yangtze river. If we fight in the ocean, we lose, but if we fight in
    the river we win.”

    Seems offering 50,000 pirated e-books was part of the fight.

    Actually, nobody had ever heard of Taohua’s existence before this
    brouhaha brewed up in Ma’s face — causing him to lose face,
    temporarily — and the piracy charges only became a problem after
    several bestselling authors and their publishers poked Ma for selling
    pirated content online. According to sources, a few pirated e-books by
    Milan Kundera, Garcia Gabriel Marquez and other authors remain
    available at Taohua, too.


    DANNY ON YOU TUBE FOR 2 MINUTES:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9xpN78-cJP0

  2. Posted December 17, 2010 at 7:12 am | Permalink

    You wrote some good aspects here. I looked for the theme and found plenty of persons who agree with you.

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