In today’s WeChat Essential Tip, brought to you by China Channel, we will review ‘WeChat Read‘ (微信读书). A brand new eBook app launched on the 27th of August by Tencent (the parent company of WeChat). Below is Tencent founder Pony Ma’s moment post introducing ‘WeChat Read:
‘WeChat Read’ is designed to work seamlessly with WeChat, enabling you to do several things:
- Read eBooks in a simple clean interface; no nasty ads or popups
- Buy eBooks using WeChat payment
- Gift an eBook to your friend through WeChat
- Make book recommendations to your WeChat friends
- Share passages or quotes from books on your moments or directly to friends
- Compare with your WeChat friends to see which books you are reading and how often
To download the app either add the WeChat official account ‘微信读书’ and click the link in the welcome message. Alternatively (and easier) is simply to scan the QR Code below.
The app’s login page gives 1 option: login with WeChat ID. If the name didn’t give it away, the login options make it clear: this app is strongly tied to the WeChat eco-system.
Once logged in, we reach the main home page area. It has the following options:
Selecting discover and we get a selection of books. Choose categories.
Scroll down till you reach 英文图书 (YingWenTuShu – English Books).
Unfortunately the catalog of English books available in the app is rather limited right now, but is likely to expand considerably in the future. Many of the books despite being in English, still have Chinese titles. There are a few exceptions, we will choose one of them: Great Speeches. It’s priced at 3.99 yuan. Let’s select 试卖 (shimai – sample).
You can sample read the first 244 pages (9 chapters) of the book for free. Beyond that, you must pay. Not a bad deal compared with Amazon, which will usually allow you perhaps a single sample chapter. We were so inspired by the American presidents’ speeches that we’re going to buy the book! Rather than being able to pay 3.99 yuan directly, you currently can only top up your balance within the app using one of the following amounts.
After topping up my balance using WeChat pay. I can now pay for the book.
Now we have access to all 39 chapters, including the inaugural speech of the first black president Bill Clinton 😉 By tapping the bottom of a page when you are reading, several options pop up. An interesting one is the black mask icon which allows us to read the book in secret (i.e. so your WeChat friends cannot see what you are reading).
Sharing a passage from the book is as simple as long pressing the text and then selecting the share option.
You can post the quote to either moments or chat threads.
When you friend click on the link they see a page with the full quote and the book information.
There are similar options for sharing the entire book too.
Or gifting the eBook to your friend.
Select a book title within the app and you will be able to see which of you WeChat friends are reading the book at the same time.
You can comment on the book for your friends to see also.
‘WeChat Read’ is a typical example of how Tencent is leveraging their dominance in social media to expand into other areas. Compared with other popular Chinese eBook apps such as ‘iReader’, ‘WeChat Read’ feels visually much closer to the typical Western app experience. It has a simple and clear design; no invasive adverts and intuitive controls. ‘WeChat Read’ is clearly focused on the social aspects of reading and sharing among friends to give it the advantage over the more established eBook reader apps.
Join us tomorrow for our next article from the China Channel ‘WeChat Essential Tips’ series. Follow us on WeChat by scanning the QR code to follow our official account.