Book browsing v2.0
China’s brick-and-mortar bookshops getting a much needed upgrade
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Xinhua, China’s largest State-owned national book chain, founded in 1937 under the leadership of the new Communist Party of China, is a ubiquitous sight across China, with most major cities claiming several or even dozens of branches.
The government has long provided support to brick-and-mortar bookstores including Xinhua with favorable policies and initiatives. According to Zhou Huilin, deputy director of the State Administration of Press, Publication, Radio, Film and Television, since the 12th Five-Year Plan, over 500 million yuan ($74.96 million) in funds have been invested to support China’s physical bookstore development. That figure is expected to rise this year.
Investment in the reconstruction and extension of Xinhua provided by National Development and Reform Commission has already exceeded 300 million yuan. Thanks to value-added tax alleviation favored by financial bureaus, over 5 billion yuan in annual taxes are exempted in China’s publishing industry.
As an important part of the 2017 Shanghai Book Fair, the annual China Physical Bookstore Innovation & Development Conference hosted by Shanghai Municipal Press and Publication Bureau last Thursday welcomed 180 representatives from the local publishing industry.
This year also marks the 80th anniversary of Xinhua Bookstore. The conference, focusing on innovation and development of bookstores, invited four publishing companies to share their experiences and plans for reform.
“Physical bookstore development in 2016 was not promising at all,” said Zhang Lin, vice general manager of Heilongjiang Book Audio and Video Publishing Group (HBAVPG).
Zhang said that, compared to 2015, China’s national book retailing market gained 12.3 percent growth last year. However, physical bookstore sales decreased by 2.23 percent, while online sales achieved an 80 percent increase.
Moreover in 2016, nationwide book retailing amounted to 70.1 billion yuan, among which physical bookstore sales took 33.6 billion yuan while online sales reached to 36.5 billion yuan.
Heilongjiang Publishing Group has 99 Xinhua Bookstore outlets under its wings. Zhang said that it started its own transformation and upgrade in 2013 to adapt to emerging market trends. According to Zhang, the group aims to build their bookstores into a comprehensive cultural spaces favoring interactive experiences. To do this, it has brought in cultural products, food and beverages as well as creative activities hosted in its shops. Gogol Bookstore in Harbin, the capital of Heilongjiang Province, is a successful forerunner of the group’s efforts. Opened in 2014, it has won over local readers with its pleasant reading environment and services catering to different requirements. Five Xinhua Bookstore outlets of HBAVPG rank among 2017’s Most Beautiful Bookstores in China competition organized by China Xinhua Bookstore Association.
In 2006, the government initiated a
“reading for all” canpaign throughout the country, which aims to encourage a love for reading, create better reading habits among the population and boost cultural strength. It has become a national strategy in recent years.
Government agencies, publishing innd stitutions, libraries and bookstores are ingn. volved in this campaign Xinhua Winshare Publishing and Media Co., Ltd, founded by Sichuan Xinhua Publishing Group in 2005, has also been doing something new
According to Chen Dali, vice genhare, eral manager of Wins his company created a new reading platform which combines physical and online bookstores on the basis of advanced technologies, big data and convenient online/offline services.
Free of personnel as it is, readers are able to borrow, check, return or buy books on their own using the new platform. It also proading vides reading recommendations,
self-service registration, reservations and electronic reading.
“It is a sharing reading model based on smart terminals,” said Chen, “which is designed in four aspects: resource sharing, reading information sharing, service sharing and profit sharing.” Chen said that Winshare is also working on platforms respectively for rural areas and students in primary and middle schools.
Tearing down walls
Anhui Xinhua Distribution Group Holding Co.,Ltd is joining the new sharing economy as well. According to Cao Jie, board chairman of the group, it has created a service called U+bookstore which provides book lending to the public.
“In the past, reading was a personal behavior, but now readers can share their opinions and reviews on this social reading platform,” said Cao, adding that they are “tearing down the walls between buying and borrowing.”
The platform now has 3 million online readers and many individual reading groups based on genre. Cao said that they are hoping to provide this direct service for free for next two years. To encourage reading, they also set up a reading scholarship.
Shenzhen Publication & Distribution Group (SPDG) has been building up “book cities,” large-scaled comprehensive book shopping malls operating as general merchandise stores and covering publications of all varieties, business centers, dining, postal and banks services. According to Chen Xinliang, editor in chief of SPDG, there are four book cities currently in operation in the border town, amounting to 1.62 billion yuan in investment provided by the local government.
According to Chen, four more book cities will be constructed in the future. The Shenzhen aims to build up book cities in all six of its districts and book bars in all 75 residential districts of Shenzhen.
Book bars are physical bookstores featuring outstanding decorations and a pleasant ambience. It combines book selling, food and beverage services as well as cultural activities.
Library functions and elements like trainings, galleries, small theaters or lectures are being introduced to the bars. Book bars are spreading widely in communities, parks, hospitals, universities, shopping
office buildings, scenic spots and industrial parks.
Chen said that the bars are mainly supported by the government with free property management and free utilities, while SPDG is responsible for furnishings and daily operations. “We want to take construction to a new level by taking advantage of Internet,” said Chen.
branch Zhongshuge oo to at Rée Department ore ing’an istric
Jing’an branch; China Zhongshuge Bookstore’s & Development Physical Bookstore Innovation Xintiandi Ji You bookstore’s Conference Yan branch