To Yuwei Pan, a regular fix of Chinese novels on her smartphone makes her daily commute a pleasure. But these aren’t just normal stories. Chinese e-books are often serialised; readers wait for the latest chapters of a story, much like viewers catch up with the newest episodes of Game of Thrones.
They also provide an interactive reading experience, where readers and writers can discuss and co-develop the plot. “I turn to Kindle for serious books, but I go to Chinese online literature for imagination, fun and freedom,” Pan says.
The 21-year-old student is one of more than 330 million readers of Chinese online literature. Mostly under 30, they favour genres like fantasy, wuxia (stories about heroes and martial arts), science fiction, mystery and romance. And it’s only going to get bigger—the market has grown by more than 20 percent annually since 2012 to $1.3 billion, according to the publicity department of the Beijing Municipal Committee.