SHANGHAI (Reuters) – Amazon said it will stop supplying retailers in China with its Kindle e-readers from Thursday and will shut its Kindle e-bookstore there next year, in the latest pullback by a US tech firm from the restrictive Chinese market.
Amazon announced the decision on its official WeChat account on Thursday, saying it was adjusting the strategic focus of its operations and that its other business lines in China would continue.
The Kindle China e-bookstore will stop selling ebooks from June 30 next year, it said, though customers will be able to continue downloading any purchased books for a year beyond that.
It will also remove the Kindle app from Chinese app stores in 2024, it added.
The company said the closure of Kindle’s China business was not due to government pressure or censorship.
“We remain committed to our customers in China. As a global business, we periodically evaluate our offerings and make adjustments, wherever we operate,” a spokesperson for Amazon said in an emailed statement.
“With our portfolio of businesses in China, we will continue to innovate and invest where we can provide value to our customers.”
Amazon’s remaining businesses in China include cross-border e-commerce, advertising and cloud services. It shut down its China online store in 2019.
Reuters reported in December last year on Amazon’s deep, decade-long effort to win favour in Beijing to protect and grow its business in China.
The report detailed how the Kindle business was one it had sought to expand in China, and cited an internal 2018 Amazon briefing document that said by the end of 2017, China had become Kindle’s largest global market, “accounting for 40%+ of our world device sales volume”.
Other Western internet companies, including Microsoft’s LinkedIn, Yahoo and Airbnb have cut services in or retreated completely from China in recent months, amid government efforts to tighten control over online content and new laws targeting data sharing and customer privacy.
(Reporting by Brenda Goh; Editing by Susan Fenton and Jacqueline Wong)