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Alibaba to Launch Online Bookstore Next Week

Alibaba, the ecommerce giant, has recently announced plans to launch a new bookstore service. Yeah, I know – paper, how retro can you get?

The new service is due to launch later this week  on, one of Alibaba’s subsidiaries. Alibaba is promising to stock over a million titles at launch. Tmall will provide reference books, novels, and business-related books online.

This site is reportedly China’s largest e-commerce website. Alibaba already has over 1,000 independent booksellers signed up to set up their own bookstores on the site, and that means we could to see some rather interesting effects of tight market competition.

Do you know how you can buy some books on Amazon (used, of course) for only a few cents plus shipping? Having a bunch of sellers in one place drives the price down. I suspect that a similar market trend happen on Tmall.

So why is this story on an ereader blog?

Because it tells you something about the Chinese ebook market. Alibaba sees greater profit in getting into paper books than ebooks, leadine me to wonder if the Chinese ebook market isn’t growing fast enough or big enough to interest Alibaba. This news today bucks the trend seen in the US and Europe, where everyone is going digital. It also tends to buck the trend in China, where Tmall’s next largest competitors Dangdang and 360Buy, have already launched ebookstores.

Do you think the Chinese ebook market isn’t ready to take off yet or do you think that maybe Alibaba has seen through the hype?


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willem June 15, 2012 um 8:12 am

I suspect this is the reason:
"Rather than buying books from publishers and holding inventory, Tmall will reportedly introduce 50 publishers and 20 B2C book websites directly to consumers. Tmall plans to generate revenue through advertising and commission from sales."

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