E-reading Chinese-language books in Taiwan: Frustrations Galore

Taiwan has been quite slow to get into the e-books game, but over the last few years, more and more titles are being made available on a range of platforms. Although there is a range of reading devices available, I’m going to look only at e-books available on the Kindle (the only dedicated e-reader device in my possession) and on various mobile phone apps.

A word of warning, expect to be slightly disappointed. The industry seems largely to be dragging its heels, preferring traditional paper copies to digital copies (cue a junior lecturer’s lesson plan on Walter Benjamin). I’m not sure if this has to do with copyright law or if there’s just a general fuddy-duddyness. Anecdotally speaking, I’ve seen a lot of people reading martial arts novels and lots of manga on their phones in the MRT.

Kindle: I was actually surprised when I was gearing up to do this blogpost, how many Taiwanese books are available on Kindle if you search for them. That is the catch though, you already have to know what you’re looking for. Once you do manage to get your book on to the Kindle, it works quite well.

The other options available that I’ve seen are Google Play Books, MyBooks or eBook – the eBook reader launched by books.com.tw (and there’s also ReadMoo and Kobo rated below in the table). Even here, older but famous titles (like 《孽子》  for example) are hard to find. If you know of any other stores let me know in the comments section.

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