A long-awaited service for readers in Taiwan, Hong Kong, Macau and some other overseas Chinese communities have finally come true: Amazon has just started offering Traditional Chinese books for its Kindle e-reader.
The release filled an obvious gap for Kindle, which debuted back in 2007 and has been growing the number of languages it supports over the years. 2012 marked a major step in its Asia expansion as it began providing e-books in Simplified Chinese — the type of characters used in mainland China — under its China-specific site. That was a prelude to Kindle’s entry into China the next year. We will see if the same pattern of regional push will repeat for Taiwan and Hong Kong, where Kindle isn’t officially distributed at the moment.
Previously, people who read Traditional characters had to find roundabout ways to access the language on Kindle, such as buying Simplified content and converting it into Traditional using customized fonts that became available since Amazon’s 5.9.6 firmware update. Of course, that’s a time-consuming solution riddled with all sorts of calibration issues in spacing and font size.
The Traditional Chinese store kicked off with a list of more than 20,000 books that people can read on their Kindle apps and Kindle devices. For some comparison, Kindle carried some 60,000 Simplified titles a year after introducing the language.
Users can now find Traditional Chinese books on a dedicated portal hosted on all existing Amazon.com websites, the company says. The early selection spans popular authors like Hugo Award-winning Liu Cixin and Chinese classics like Dream of the Red Chamber, in addition to translated bestsellers, including George R.R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire series.
The regional launch is also targeted at authors, who can now self-publish their Traditional Chinese books through Kindle Direct Publishing and distribute the works to the language communities around the world.
“Bringing Traditional Chinese language books to Kindle is a step forward on our journey to provide more choice and selection to readers around the world,” said David Naggar, vice president of Kindle Books in a statement. But the store is not as finished as its Simplified counterpart yet, missing editor’s choice, book sales, pre-sales, book rankings and other potentially popular features.