Wed, Sep 30, 2009 - Page 12 News List

Alliance aims to give Taiwan the edge in e-books

JOINING FORCES The E-book Strategic Alliance is tasked with using Taiwan’s status as a leader in the Mandarin publishing sector within the electronic arena

By Jason Tan  /  STAFF REPORTER

The government yesterday introduced the E-book Strategic Alliance, which aims to standardize the nation’s e-book business models, service platforms and content formats in a bid to give Taiwan a leading position in the global Mandarin digital publishing industry.

“The government is emphasizing the promotion of the digital content industry, and the digital publishing segment, including e-books, will receive extra attention,” said Frank Hsu (許清琦), director of the Ministry of Economic Affairs’ Digital Content Industry Promotion Office.

The ministry has teamed up with a number of local research institutions, publishing houses, telecoms providers, educational institutions and manufacturers of e-book readers to help the country cash in on the relatively new e-book market.

The alliance includes the Institute for the Information Industry (資策會), Cite Media Holding Group (城邦媒體), Chunghwa Telecom Co (中華電信), Netronix Inc (振曜科技) and National Tsing Hua University.

As e-book readers have picked up momentum globally, driven by Amazon.com Inc’s Kindle and Sony Corp’s e-readers, the alliance said it hoped to capitalize on Taiwan’s status as the world’s Mandarin publishing powerhouse.

By 2013, the alliance aims to increase Taiwan’s digital publishing output value to NT$100 billion (US$3.1 billion) by nurturing two to three Mandarin e-book content trading houses and pushing 100,000 Mandarin e-books into the market.

Although the government last month earmarked NT$2.13 billion to promote the local digital publishing industry, market veterans said Taiwan had to pick up the pace to compete with South Korea and China, which support their domestic e-book industries with strong government backing.

“Taiwan’s hardware makers have already secured a strong grip with e-book reader manufacturing, but we are still trying to sort out business models and which platforms and services to use,” said Jean Chen (陳昭靜), a researcher at Topology Research Institute (拓墣產業研究所).

Rachel Lee (李瑞琴), vice president of Cite Media, one of the nation’s major publishing houses with more than 50 magazine titles, holds a similar view.

“In this era, what matters most is not content, but service and platforms,” Lee said.

Currently, there are many service providers trying to offer disparate e-book solutions, she said.

Examining successful overseas business models and the formation of the E-book Strategic Alliance will help push the local industry to the next level, she said.

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