Amazon Pulls the Plug on Kindle in China

Amazon Pulls the Plug on Kindle in China
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A Kindle device next to a series of physical books.

Books are displayed along side an Amazon Kindle device, which offers previews of those same books on nearby shelves at the Amazon Books store on November 4, 2015 in Seattle, Washington.
Photo: Stephen Brashear (Getty Images)

Amazon has become the latest big tech company to scale back its ambitions in the Chinese market, announcing Thursday that it would stop shipping its Kindle e-reader there and shutter its ebook store in the country in 2023. The company closed its ecommerce business there in 2019.

First reported by Reuters, Amazon said on its official Weibo account on Thursday that it would stopping shipping Kindles to Chinese retailers this week and briefly outlined a series of steps it would take to withdraw from the e-reader and e-book market. The Kindle store will be running until June 2023, the company explained, and customers will be able to download any books they’ve purchased until 2024. Then Amazon will remove its Chinese Kindle app from app stores, according to Reuters.

“We remain committed to our customers in China. As a global business, we periodically evaluate our offerings and make adjustments, wherever we operate,” an Amazon spokesperson told Reuters. “With our portfolio of businesses in China, we will continue to innovate and invest where we can provide value to our customers.”

It added that the departure was not influenced by the Chinese government or matters of censorship.

Amazon says it would refund any Kindle purchases made by customers this year. Gizmodo reached out to Amazon for comment on Thursday but did not receive a response by the time of publication.

This doesn’t mean that Amazon is quitting China altogether. While it doesn’t have a dedicated China marketplace, the company does still offer cross-border e-commerce, which allows customers to buy goods from international retailers. Amazon also offers advertising and cloud services in China.

The ecommerce giant joins the ranks of Microsoft and Yahoo, which last year announced that there would leave China. Microsoft’s move to yank LinkedIn from the market signaled the exit of the last major U.S. social network in the country and reportedly came after Chinese regulators said they would penalize the company if it did not do a better job of moderating content and complying with censorship laws.

Both Microsoft and Yahoo cited the “challenging” regulatory environment in the country as their reasons for leaving. Read: strict censorship laws.

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