After more than a year of speculation and delays, Amazon Kindle e-readers and tablets will reportedly be available for sale in China on June 7. E-readers like the Paperwhite and Kindle Fire tablets will be sold on Amazon China’s website, as well as Tesco stores operated by retail conglomerate Suning. Amazon Kindle kiosks have already been spotted in a Beijing Tesco, Sina Tech reports (link via Google Translate).
The price of the Kindle Paperwhite Wi-Fi has reportedly been set at 849 RMB (about $138), while the Kindle Fire HD will sell for about 1,400 to 1,500 RMB ($228 to $244).
Amazon has gradually rolled out its Kindle platform in China. Documentation appeared late last year showing that the Kindle had begun to support simplified Chinese characters. In December, Amazon’s China site added a Kindle store category and made Kindle app downloads available.
The company also launched its Chinese-language Web site for developers earlier this month, promising that they would soon have access to customers in 200 countries.
Despite its slow and steady approach, Amazon has faced several obstacles, including regulatory challenges for its e-book business from the General Administration of Press and Publication, China’s state censorship organization. Amazon China does not have a license to publish e-books and instead partnered with domestic e-publisher ChineseAll.com to launch Kindle book downloads last December. In response, the General Administration of Press and Publication launched an investigation into the partnership last December, stating that borrowing a license is against the law.
It’s also unclear if Amazon will be able to reap any profit from tapping into the world’s second-largest market in the e-reader industry. In the U.S., Amazon sells its hardware at cost, relying instead on sales of books, apps and movies for profit. In China, however, Amazon not only has to deal with scrutiny, but also with domestic competitors, including media conglomerate Hanvon, Dangdang and Shanda, who have already gained a solid foothold on the e-publishing market, as well as pirated versions of popular titles. The wide availability of e-books, as well as cheap Android tablets, may mean Amazon will have to make significant adjustments to its revenue model in China.