Shanda Prepares for Wide Release of E-reader in China

Shanda Literature, one of China's largest online publishers, will be releasing its Bambook e-reader to the Chinese public on Sept. 28, just weeks after the company completed a trial sale of the new device.

Earlier this month, the company finished an "internal test" sale of the device, releasing a total of 3,500 Bambooks to invited users. Now Shanda Literature is preparing for a wider release of the e-reader after seeing the device's initial success among customers, said company spokeswoman Wang Jing.

The e-reader has a 6-inch, 800-by-600 pixel display, Wi-Fi and 3G connections, and a battery that can keep the e-reader on standby for 24 days on a single charge. But one of the e-reader's main selling points has been its low price, now marked at 999 renminbi (US$147). Users can already reserve one through the Bambook website.

By releasing its Bambook, Shanda has sought to strengthen the still-developing e-reader market in China, as well as leverage its already vast e-book library of 3 million titles, Wang said.

Shanda hopes to firmly establish the Bambook, the company's e-book library, and methods to deliver that content. "This will allow us to create a Chinese version of Amazon," Wang said.

Amazon has yet to begin officially selling its Kindle in China. But e-readers from other Chinese companies have already entered the mainland market, with sales of such devices expected to reach 3.5 million units according to Beijing research firm Analysys International.

The low price of the Bambook will do more to expand the market said, Sun Peilin, an analyst with Analysys. "Before, people knew of this market, but they thought it was too expensive to get into," he said. But now Shanda is working to make consumers open to the idea of buying e-readers by making them cheaper, Sun added.

"If the price is low, then more consumers will welcome this kind of technology," he said.

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