Guangbo Media, which last year launched 24reader.com, a Hong Kong-based online e-library, plans to expand its Taiwan business and boost the number of registered users to 100,000 next year from 15,000. 'We have invested about HK$10 million in 24reader.com and will further invest HK$10 million to HK$20 million in the coming year,' said Carlos Cheng Ka-lok, the managing director and founder of Guangbo Media. 'When our business has grown to a critical size, for example, with more than 100,000 registered users, we will consider a share sale. For the longer term, we are targeting an initial public offering.' In 2006, three entrepreneurs who had been successful in distributing information technology products and publishing founded Guangbo Media, with its headquarters at Hong Kong Science Park. They also set up sales offices in Taiwan and Singapore. In July last year, the company and Founder Globaltech, an affiliate of the Peking University Founder Group, together launched 24reader.com. Users can buy prepaid game cards, which are widely used in the online game industry, at convenience stores and pay-to-read books on the web. 'A reader can read the first 10 per cent of a book for free and only has to pay 20 points or HK$2 to read the full-copy each day,' said Mr Cheng. 'If a reader returns a book after five days, the cost is only HK$10, which is much cheaper than buying a copy physically. Readers can also choose to pay a monthly fee, just like watching pay-television.' Mr Cheng expected demand for e-library services would grow rapidly in Asia, especially on the mainland and Taiwan. He said e-books could save bookshelf space and were convenient for readers who travel. 'In the past, the publisher must at least secure sales of several thousand copies before printing a book. E-book does not have such limitation and can allow the publication of more minority topics. 'With more writers emerging in the market, this will help the readers market grow.' The website, which provides more than 50,000 e-books, has used the digital rights management (DRM) technology developed by Founder Globaltech to prevent unauthorised duplication or transfer of the e-books. Microsoft Corp and Adobe Systems have also developed similar DRM technology. 'We are now designing a new page layout for personal digital assistant users,' Mr Cheng said. 'At the moment, we have no plans to develop an e-book device, whose price will not be as competitive as a notebook computer.' Amazon.com, the world's largest online bookstore, last year launched Amazon Kindle, an e-book computer appliance, at a retail price of US$359.