Shanda launches new e-reader in China

Existing Shanda customers can buy a limited supply of the e-reader for $147

Shanda Literature, one of China's largest online publishers, released a new e-reader called Bambook this week, making it available to a select number of customers.

The company, which is part of Shanda Interactive Entertainment, began selling its Bambook on Monday as part of an "internal test" that will release 3,500 devices to users invited to buy the product. The e-reader, which has been in development for a year and half, features a 6-inch display with an 800 by 600 pixel resolution that can use 16 shades of gray. It can use Wi-Fi and 3G connections, and has a 24-day standby time on one battery charge.

The device's price has been slashed down to 998 renminbi (US$147) and the sale goes on until Aug. 18. But according to Shanda's website, the actual price of the Bambook is at 3,280 renminbi ($483).

Shanda isn't the first Chinese company to come out with its own e-reader. Although Amazon has yet to begin officially selling its Kindle in China, domestic rivals such as Hanvon Technology and Datang Telecom have already been making their own devices. This year, sales of e-readers are projected to reach 3.5 million units in China according to Beijing research firm Analysys International.

But the major advantage Bambook will have over its competitors is that the device has a massive catalog of e-books to choose from, said Sun Peilin, an analyst with Analysys. Users of the device can also choose from 3 million titles currently available on Bambook's ebook store.

"The company has 3 million e-books, their advantage is obvious. The medium they use to allow people to read them is not as important " he said.

Shanda claims its Bambook will be the first e-reader to feature solar battery recharging. The device also includes a text-to-voice reading capability.

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