Amid talk of their demise, book­shelves are back

Thanks to strong gov­ern­ment poli­cies and gen­er­ous sub­si­dies, phys­i­cal book re­tail spa­ces are ex­pe­ri­enc­ing a re­vival de­spite com­pe­ti­tion from on­line ven­dors

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - COVER STORY - By ZHANG KUN in Shang­hai zhangkun@chi­nadaily.com.cn

Though they were once af­fected by com­pe­ti­tion from on­line mer­chants, brickand-mor­tar book­stores are mak­ing a come­back thanks to gov­ern­ment sup­port, ac­cord­ing to Peng Weiguo, deputy di­rec­tor of Shang­hai mu­nic­i­pal ad­min­is­tra­tion of press and pub­li­ca­tion.

In 2012, Shang­hai be­came the first city in China to in­tro­duce poli­cies aimed at sup­port­ing and sub­si­diz­ing phys­i­cal book­shops. Two years later, the state ad­min­is­tra­tion of press and pub­li­ca­tion launched na­tion­wide mea­sures to help with the de­vel­op­ment of th­ese busi­nesses.

“All th­ese poli­cies, to a large de­gree, pro­pelled the de­vel­op­ment of brick-and-mor­tar book­stores,” said Peng.

Ac­cord­ing to the an­nual fo­rum on the in­no­va­tion and de­vel­op­ment of brick-and-mor­tar book­stores which took place dur­ing the Shang­hai Book Fair, which took place at the Shang­hai Ex­hi­bi­tion Cen­ter from Aug 16 to 22, more than 20 new book­stores have opened or will be open­ing this year.

In ad­di­tion, more than 40 brickand-mor­tar book­stores par­tic­i­pated in the Shang­hai Book Fair this year by be­com­ing venues for read­ing events and book launches. Some book­shops also set up pavil­ions at the book fair to show­case their prod­ucts.

In Shang­hai, Zhong­shu Ge book­store in Reel Mall, cel­e­brated its first an­niver­sary on Aug 18. Luo Song, the store man­ager, said that sales have been steady. Lo­cated at the heart of the bustling West Nan­jing Road commercial area, Zhong­shu Ge is a pop­u­lar des­ti­na­tion for young read­ers.

Dur­ing the book fair, the store hosted read­ing events fea­tur­ing You Touched Me, the lat­est novel by Amer­i­can Chi­nese au­thor Yan Gel­ing.

Apart from Zhong­shu Ge book­store, a large num­ber of other bou­tique book­shops, each sport­ing a dis­tinc­tive theme, have opened in Shang­hai over the past few years. In ad­di­tion to books, many of th­ese shops also stock cul­tural prod­ucts and have cafe ar­eas where vis­i­tors can en­joy a cup of cof­fee while read­ing.

JIC book­store, which is sit­u­ated in an old build­ing by the Huangpu River in Hongkou district, even boasts a view of the Bund. The store is known for its col­lec­tion of bi­ogra­phies.

Over at the Mix Place, a three-story book­shop on Heng­shan Road in Xu­ji­ahui area, read­ers can find a large col­lec­tion of art mag­a­zines. Both shops play an ac­tive role in the lo­cal cul­tural scene by reg­u­larly host­ing lec­tures, pan­els and themed events.

Peng noted that Shang­hai’s book­shops have de­vel­oped a vi­brant ecol­ogy fea­tur­ing di­verse styles and char­ac­ter­is­tics. He added that the man­age­ment teams of th­ese shops con­sist of tal­ented peo­ple who are truly ded­i­cated to the city’s cul­tural de­vel­op­ment.

A veteran in the pub­lish­ing in­dus­try, the State-owned Xinhua Book­store is cel­e­brat­ing its 80th birthday this year.

Rep­re­sen­ta­tives from the Xinhua group in Hei­longjiang prov­ince, Shen­zhen of Guang­dong prov­ince, Sichuan and An­hui prov­inces, shared their ex­pe­ri­ence of re­form­ing and de­vel­op­ing phys­i­cal book­stores dur­ing the Shang­hai Book Fair.

GAO ERQIANG / CHINA DAILY

More than 40 brick-and-mor­tar book­stores took part in the Shang­hai Book Fair this year.

GAO ERQIANG / CHINA DAILY

Book­stores with dis­tinc­tive themes have been ap­pear­ing across Shang­hai in re­cent years.

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