Should we be expecting Alibaba to get into the content game soon?

Seeing a demand no one was filling, earlier this week officially unveiled a new subscription service that offers all-you-can-read digital books for 12 yuan ($1.84) per month.

Amazon's China logo
Amazon’s China logo

Hoping to profit from growing interest in paid content in China, the new Kindle Unlimited service will give Chinese subscribers access to more than 44,000 e-books.

The Kindle is an e-reader designed and marketed by Amazon. It allows users to buy, download and read e-books, magazines and newspapers. Amazon launched its Kindle e-book store in China in December 2012.

Subscribers to the new service can read the e-books on any Kindle device or any device, including smartphones and tablet computers, with Amazon’s Kindle app installed.

The service aims to provide Chinese customers a more flexible way to read and to foster China’s nascent e-book market, said Gu Fan, the head of Kindle content product management at Amazon China.

Zhu Ning, an economist, who recently published a book named The Guaranteed Bubble,  told China Daily the number of books read by Chinese people is “embarrassingly low.”

Alibaba Holdings, the e-commerce giant founded by Jack Ma, offers a few e-book readers on site, but nothing proprietary and no content.

However, WeChat, China’s leading mobile messaging application, is hot on Amazon’s tail, trying to monetize its 650 million users by working to develop a paid subscription service.

The new service, which is under development, would allow writers of WeChat’s public accounts to charge readers for certain content.

WeChat, which is owned by the Shenzhen-based Internet giant Tencent Holdings, wasn’t planning to disclose the new service before it was ready. It was accidentally discovered by users while being tested online.

In an e-mail to China Daily on Tuesday, WeChat confirmed it is working on the new feature but didn’t say when the service will be officially launched. It said the service is intended to “support and encourage creative work” on WeChat.

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