The China based smartphone maker Xiaomi has come up with an ebook store on its MIUI app store. The company is already rumored to be developing a tablet of its own and the setting up of an ebook store does add credence to Xiaomi’s tablet ambitions. However, unlike others in the business, the Xiaomi ebook store (dubbed Xiaomi Xiaoshou) won’t be stocked with the company’s own proprietary ebook offerings. Instead, it will contain titles sourced from more than 30 other content providers. In such a manner, it will act much like an umbrella organization, providing a single sales point for the other book sellers.
The other most unique aspect of the Xiaomi book store is that users won’t be charged on a per book basis. Instead, the cost of an ebook will depend on the number of characters it contains. The rate that has been fixed is RMB 0.03, or $0.005, for every thousand characters. If a novel contains 50,000 characters, and taking into account that each word in the Chinese language is comprised of about two characters on average, the price of the entire book will come to less than a dollar. This is in line with the average cost of a Chinese book being priced about 50 cents.
What remains to be seen is how authors and publishers are going to benefit from such a price model. The proceeds from the sale of books are to be evenly split by Xiaomi and the other content providers; meanwhile, readers will benefit from the free reading time that will remain in place until Nov 2 and extends from six in the evening until midnight.