China’s media industry, government, get ready for digital books, distribution

With the upcoming launch of the Apple Tablet on January 27, the world is getting ready for 2010 to be a year of major change and disruption in digital publishing and distribution. While the Internet in China has been mainly an entertainment and social platform, recent moves by the Chinese government and industry suggest that they see change in the near future. And judging from recent moves, they believe that digital publishing will be a major area of change.

In the past year, the Chinese government has stepped up its enforcement of copyright violations and has set up mobile industry alliances for digital publishing. In 2009, the Chinese government stepped up Internet content regulation, claiming that there was too much pornography and other undesirable content on the Internet. China’s Ministry of Industry and Information Technology, which is the main ministry in charge of regulating the Internet, has even floated the idea of requiring sites on non-Chinese servers to be included on a whitelist; Chinese visitors would be able to visit them only if they were on the whitelist. China’s social networking sites, such as, have come under especially heavy government content monitoring regulations.

All signs point to the Chinese government playing a much more hands-on role for the Internet in China. For global companies such as Apple and Amazon, which will be making inroads in digital publishing this year, a big question will be how they want to deal with the Chinese government when it comes to regulation of their services in China.

The days when the Internet was wild and unregulated in China are over for good.