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.