Boyue has been making e-readers for six years and primarily focused on the Chinese market. Over the course of the past three years, they started to market their products overseas and introduced English to spur adoption. Their first generation of products that were developed for a wider audience was the Likebook Mars, Mimas, Muses, Ares and Alita. The vast majority of these were ebook readers, that came with a WACOM screen and had note taking functionality. Sales were very strong and reviewers had mostly good things to say. In 2020, Boyue took the year off and started their own factory and started to make their own devices, instead of outsourcing the manufacturing to a 3rd party. The first new devices they released were the Likebook P6, Likebook P78, Likebook P10, they also signed an agreement with LemonRead to produce thousands of units, but the deal mostly fell through. This resulted in Boyue having a surplus of over one thousand units, that they had to write off, which was the final nail in the coffin. Boyue and the Likebook brand, are most likely dead.
Things get complicated when we try and determine what is happening with the Boyue, as a whole. Boyue has a number of sizable investors that helped them scale their company. I remember around six years ago when they had one building, with their offices, warehouse and small factory in the the same building. Around 2 years ago they got sizable investments from unknown entiries. They closed down their old building, and leased 3 different properties, a warhouse, larger factory and a nicer headquarters for their staff. Last year, E INK closed down their largest factory in China, due to COVID. This created a global electronic paper display shortage and E INK doubled their prices, so only larger brands such as Amazon, Kobo, Barnes and Noble, Tolino, could afford to pay the prices, and smaller ones, could not, or could only afford to do a limited release. This is why Remarkable 2, Supernote A5X and all Boyue products are virtually out of stock, except what 3rd party merchants still have inventory.
Here are the things I have official confirmation from various sources. Boyue, as a company still exists, but hardly anyone is working there. The Likebook brand still belongs to them. They closed their factories and warehouses and fired most of their staff. There is another company called Ruixin, who is based in Shenzhen. They are the ones who have been processing payments from wholesalers who want to buy Boyue hardware and accessories. They have been doing this since October of 2021. Former Boyue stuff, have started a new company called Haoqingtech. They are launching a new series of e-readers called Meebook. I have been told that they are going to try and buy the Likebook brand from Boyue, since it has strong brand recognition, but this might not happen. It is hard to establish a new brand and get customers to trust you. The manufacturing of the Meebook brand are being done at external factories, to keep costs low. The software team is internal, so they will retain the same UI and operating system. The upcoming Meebook P78 Pro is an example of this.
Boyue is one of the best Chinese brands when it comes to e-readers. They have built up a solid following, since they appealed to a wide demographic with their digital note taking devices and their dedicated e-readers. All of this hardware had Google Play preinstalled, which many people liked. The only people who have heard of Boyue were the people who bought their devices or needed warranty information. The Likebook name had more weight, since they have been using that for the past decade. Being based China, they were easy to contact, if you live there. Outside of China, they were almost impossible. They never developed their own website or internet forums for help and support. They ran a Twitter account and Facebook Group, but none of them had any moderators to answer any questions. These social platforms existed only to promote their Aliexpress Store. Primarily, Boyue relied on their small army of distributors to buy products in bulk, and they were responsible for marketing Boyue and the Likebook brand in specific countries. They took the burden off of Boyue to handle customers, instead the wholesales did it for them. Most wholesalers who bought regularly, often had a specific agent that worked with them, they provided details on firmware updates, upcoming products, handled warranty claims and provided graphic assets.
Michael Kozlowski has been writing about audiobooks and e-readers for the past twelve years. His articles have been picked up by major and local news sources and websites such as the CBC, CNET, Engadget, Huffington Post and the New York Times. He Lives in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada.