In a two-way partnership announced today (Monday 9th March), Shanghai-based Tencent Literature and Boston-based Trajectory, Inc., have agreed to a major import and export programme of Chinese and English-language e-books.
The arrangement sees Trajectory offering Tencent Literature's catalogue of more than 200,000 Chinese e-books to North and South American distribution channels. Trajectory c.e.o. James Bryant told The Bookseller that the Chinese e-books "will soon be available at Apple, Amazon, Nook, Kobo, and offered to every school and library distributor in America."
In providing English-language e-books to Tencent Literature, Bryant said, "We are currently working with a slice of academic publishers (The MIT Press), business publishers (Berrett-Koehler), trade publishers (RosettaBooks), and popular culture (Titan Comics), and importing those titles into China." Trajectory maintains offices in Beijing as well as in Boston.
The preparation of the Chinese e-books from Tencent, on Trajectory's part, involves "converting, formatting, provisioning, and providing digital merchandising and marketing support for the Tencent titles," according to the initial news release. "Trajectory will also be providing Tencent with consolidated weekly and monthly sales activity reporting and monthly and quarterly royalty reporting."
In a prepared statement, Tencent Literature vice-president Li Luo said: "We have found success working with Nicholas Walton, Trajectory’s Director of Operations and the Trajectory team in Beijing. Trajectory is providing Tencent Literature with the unique opportunity to convert and deliver our most popular eBooks to previously untouched markets. Trajectory’s production and reporting platform allows for an easy transition of our titles to new markets, and we anticipate great success in the future."
Speaking to The Bookseller, Trajectory's Bryant characterised Tencent's intention in the agreement to be "providing a global solution to its authors and publishers. This is the first time that many of them have distributed outside of China. Their (Tencent Literature's) catalog includes the Top 10 bestselling fiction titles in China for 2014", according to Baidu, the Chinese Web services company.
As reported in January, Trajectory is known for its book-discoverability work, using "natural language processing" (NLP) technology to have books' text analysed and then compared to that of other books to generate recommendations. The goal is a commercially viable option to sales algorithms, using such factors as character, plot points, and setting to offer readers an alternative form of guidance. Bryant tells The Bookseller that the Trajectory discoverability technology is a part of the new agreement with Tencent Literature: "All of the English-language ebooks that we will be submitting will arrive with keywords generated through our NLP in English and in Chinese, (and with) recommendations from within our catalog of titles that we have been asked to distribute."
Tencent Literature's parent, Tencent Holdings Limited, was founded in Shenzhen in November 1998, went public on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange in 2004, and became one of the 50 constituent stocks of the Hang Seng Index in 2008 (HK 700). The company reports that its consumer base numbers more than 820 million active users for its Internet services including QQ Instant Messenger, WeChat, online gaming, social networking, and information. Tencent was in the news earlier this year for its new partnership to become the National Basketball Association's (NBA) largest international digital partner in on-demand NBA games. China Tech News reports that Tencent made its online books business an independently operating subsidiary, Tencent Literature, in April 2014.
Speaking of Trajectory's new arrangement with Tencent Literature, Bryant said: "This partnership is a unique and exciting cross-cultural opportunity. Never before have so many Chinese language titles become available outside of China. Tencent Literature’s portfolio of star authors, representing one of the most popular current catalogs of Chinese eBooks, will now be accessible to the rest of the world. We are equally excited to introduce English language publishers to Tencent’s dynamic distribution platform and their 820 million active users.”