03:03

Is China’s physical book market on the decline?

In Shanghai, the imminent closure of a preferred used bookstore has led to opposition and grief on-line, as the native authorities goals to renovate the outdated neighborhood. For greater than 20 years, the bookshop – named Fudan Used Bookstore – has served avid readers close to a college, with a group that features uncommon objects. 

Its proprietor Zhang Qiang, who began as a book vendor in Shanghai, has devoted greater than 20 years of his life to the book buying and selling enterprise. And he has been given half a 12 months to maneuver to a different location.  

In Shanghai, the imminent closure of a preferred used bookstore has led to opposition and grief on-line, as the native authorities goals to renovate the outdated neighborhood. For greater than 20 years, the bookshop - named Fudan Used Bookstore - has served avid readers close to a college, with a group that features uncommon objects. 

Fudan Used Bookstore faces closure in half a 12 months’s time. /CGTN

Fudan Used Bookstore faces closure in half a 12 months’s time. /CGTN

“I don’t think I’ll have the energy to spend another 10 or 20 years in building another cultural corner like this. If this bookstore has to be closed, I’m afraid that will be the end of it,” mentioned Zhang.  

The bookstore’s frequenters embrace faculty college students and a few bibliophiles, lots of whom are involved about the way forward for the place, which has turn into a fixture close to Fudan University.  

The proprietor confirmed us a group of Victor Hugo books. Touching them fondly, Zhang mentioned “it’s easy to find these old and precious books in my store, which is nearly impossible in new bookstores now.”

“Book selling alone is not that profitable”

It’s speculated that gross sales of physical books can be severely affected as e-books and on-line bookstores acquire extra traction in China and past.  

In Shanghai, the imminent closure of a preferred used bookstore has led to opposition and grief on-line, as the native authorities goals to renovate the outdated neighborhood. For greater than 20 years, the bookshop - named Fudan Used Bookstore - has served avid readers close to a college, with a group that features uncommon objects. 

A second-hand bookstore. /VCG

A second-hand bookstore. /VCG

However, a report launched in 2017 about China’s book buying and selling trade exhibits that the market worth of physical books stood at 180 billion yuan (about $28 billion), whereas that of e-books was price solely two billion yuan.  

Brick-and-mortar bookstores witnessed continued progress in the previous few years, fairly in distinction to what was anticipated when e-books had been launched to the market. The newest accessible statistics, based on China’s Brick-and-mortar Bookstore Industry Report (2019-2020), reveal that China had over 70,000 physical bookstores in 2019, together with 4,000 newly opened ones. In comparability, the variety of bookstores closed in the identical 12 months was about 500. 

The introduction of the Kindle in 2007 was thought-about a historic second in e-book growth. And China grew to become Kindle’s largest market in 2016. Chinese retail and telecoms giants, together with JD.com and Tencent, all jumped on the bandwagon. 

“Chinese people didn’t grow used to reading devices like Kindle. In regards to reading on mobile phones, they’ve become more aware of the hazardous effects on their health … In addition, the use of electronic reading devices is limited among some institutions like universities. Some book publishers haven’t granted e-books the rights to publish their books,” mentioned Professor Liu Chunsheng from Central University of Finance and Economics. 

Home home equipment retail large Suning began to check the waters of the book buying and selling enterprise in 2019, by mixing the gross sales of physical books with its electrical residence home equipment in one among its chain shops in Shanghai.  

By promoting books in a house home equipment retailer, folks have a tendency to remain longer in the store, therefore rising the gross sales of different merchandise, based on Li Yan, deputy supervisor of Suning Wujiaochang Store.  

“Books draw more customers, which can boost the traffic in our shopping mall and help with the sales of home appliances and other electronic products … book selling alone is not that profitable,” mentioned Li. 

This is a part of the cause why a brand new breed of sleekly designed bookstores – which give espresso, movies and different types of leisure – are burgeoning in China. Further, some have turn into selfie-worthy scorching spots, one notable case being the Sanlian Seaside Library situated in Qinhuangdao, north China’s Hebei Province.

Professor Liu advised CGTN that extra high-end leisure components might be injected into the book buying and selling trade and it has already turn into a development.  

“I don’t think we can arbitrarily say if it’s good or not. Since it has become a trend, it must be able to meet the demands of most people and the market. Brick-and-mortar bookstores must fit into the market’s needs if they want to survive,” added Liu.