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Giant Chinese writers' site in crisis

1 July 2013

A recent Publishing Perspectives story throws light on the burgeoning market for writers' work in China. The founder, Luo Li, has recently left the country's largest online literature site Quidian, charged with stealing copyrights that belonged to Quidian's parent company, Shanda Literature.

Writers have huge online audiences in China and there is great interest in them, as we at WritersServices know to our cost, having faced many attempts to use a version of our domain name which have proved almost impossible to stop - although they are clearly passing off.

But back to China. The Economic Observer Online said : ‘While Luo's case could be yet another example of disrespect for intellectual property in China, Qidian has actually shown a viable online model that sells books at prices low enough to discourage piracy, while at the same time providing a respectable income opportunity for authors.'

Quidian was founded in 2002, but just two years later, when it was purchased by Shanda, it was already the 35th most popular website in China boasting over 1 million registered readers and 20,000 writers. It audience has soared since then. Writers can submit their work and readers can download it for free until the author's work achieves a level of success which gives them VIP status. Then the site starts charging for their work. Of course writers write with this online audience in mind and many writers have made substantial sums of money, some reaping huge rewards.

The catch is that to achieve VIP status the writers must give the site their copyright and this is naturally a sticking-point for some, although many others clearly think it's worth it. According to some sources Luo Li was opposed to this and intended to set up a site where authors' copyright would be respected. In the meantime the huge Quidian machine thunders on and there's immense interest in writers.