Growth of e-book industry regulated

08:19, October 11, 2010      

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The country's first regulation to guide the development of the electronic-book industry was released by the General Administration of Press and Publication (GAPP) over the weekend.

The "e-book" addressed in the regulation is specifically digital content - formatted as print, images, audio and video - that is downloaded over the Internet and read on handheld devices, such as the Amazon Kindle or the Apple iPad.

The regulation, designed to improve the development of the industry by introducing an admittance system, was released following seven months of research by a panel of experts drawn up by the GAPP.

The panel said the benefits of e-books would become more apparent once traditional publishers link up with digital publishing houses.

The regulation also clearly stated that the government will support traditional publishers as they make the transition to e-publishing.

There had been calls for greater cooperation between the two publishing industries before the regulation was issued.

Tong Zhilei, chairman and CEO of ChineseAll, one of the authorized public digital libraries, told China Daily that the development of the Chinese e-book industry required the participation of traditional publishers.

Wang Qian, a professor in the school of intellectual property rights at the East China University of Political Science and Law, agreed with the need for cooperation between traditional and digital publishers in the e-book industry.

According to a report by the China Internet Network Information Center, 188 million Chinese read literature online in the first six months of 2010.

The GAPP said the market value of registered digital publications in China reached about 80 billion yuan ($12 billion) in 2009, surpassing traditional publications for the first time, though the figure included online games, advertising and other sectors. On their own, e-books currently represent only 1 percent of the sector.

As in the United States and Europe, the Chinese market has yet to agree on a single format for e-books, which is problematic for both readers and publishers. There are currently over 20 different types of e-book formats operating in China, which are compatible with different reading devices.

In late August, the GAPP issued a draft bulletin stating that amateurs involved in digital publishing must register with local authorities by the end of September for permission to publish.

A representative of Wanfang Data, an Internet information content provider, said every digital publisher should acquire permission to publish online, though most of them are unaware of the requirement.

Disorder among providers of hardware and software in the emerging industry led to the GAPP regulation.

Huang Hua, a senior editor in the publishing industry, said: "The regulation is in the interests of both traditional and digital publishers."

By Qiu Bo, China Daily


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