About 63 percent of Chinese Internet users had made online purchases and 56 percent of the purchasers had bought reading materials, the highest ratio in the world, said the report issued by AC Nielsen Consulting Group, a leading world marketing information company in late 2005.
"The figure hasn't been updated yet, but the rate is definitely going higher," said Li Guoqing, CEO of Dangdang.com, China's biggest online bookseller.
Many chinese are buying online simply because its much cheaper than buying from the traditional retail bookshops. Many would go to these shops and check out the books and later order it online as its usually 20-25% cheaper. Furthermore online stores usually have more choices than the traditional ones.
A fierce "price war" is taking shape between traditional bookstores and their online counterparts. Faced with the low-cost advantage of online bookstores, traditional ones can do nothing but lower the prices.
"It is still too early to tell whether online bookstores will win the war,"Huang Yuhai, the chairman of 99read.com said. "The total sales volume of three online bookstores including Dangdang.com, Joyo.com and 99read.com reached 500 million yuan (about 66.7 million U.S. dollars), taking up only 2 percent of the book market in China while Amazon.com alone holds 40 percent to 50 percent of the American market.
"Established in 1999 and 2000 respectively, Dangdang.com and Joyo.com are China's leading online shopping platforms. Though Dangdang claimed its clients increased more than 100 percent in each of the past six years, it still remains unprofitable. Its main rival Joyo, which has been acquired by Amazon .com, is also operating in the red.