Book brows­ing v2.0

China’s brick-and-mor­tar book­shops get­ting a much needed up­grade

Global Times – Metro Shanghai - - FRONT PAGE - By chen Shasha

techno gica de­velo en in China al­ter­ing o e’s trad onal ng ab s, hi se on­line book ret il are bo any have called it nd days or si al ok­stores. Howe r, in­stead await­ing ei doom, ma ocal brick n o ta ops have n re­formin th busi­ness mod­els. Apart elling ld-fash­ioned printed tter, venu uch as hongsh Book­store an n ou oo tore re trans­form­ing heir hops nt so­cial nd ltural space wi mul­tipl func ons clud­ing cof­fee, food and beve ge rvices nd os­t­ing vents and pro­grams.

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.

Na­tional strat­egy

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.

Photo: CFP

branch Zhong­shuge oo to at Rée Depart­ment ore ing’an istric

(Bot­tom) CFP and Chen Shasha/GT Pho­tos: (Left)

Jing’an branch; China Zhong­shuge Book­store’s & Devel­op­ment Phys­i­cal Book­store In­no­va­tion Xin­tiandi Ji You book­store’s Con­fer­ence Yan branch

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