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Shanghai Book Fair stresses importance of reading

2013-08-16 16:00 CNTV Web Editor: yaolan

This year.s Shanghai Book Fair is now under way, an annual event aimed at making "reading" a popular topic. Publishers and bookstore managers at the fair say they are working hard to get people back to reading serious books, at a time when many prefer something quick and light. But they say they are optimistic about the future.

How much time do you spend reading every day? The local publication authority asked that question in a survey done before the fair opened. It found that Shanghai residents spend an average of half an hour reading every day. But still, nearly 10 percent of the people surveyed say they hardly ever read anything. Xu Yanping graduated from a local high school in 2012. This is her first time visiting the book fair, because she says last year, she was too busy to read.

Xu said, "Last year, I was busy preparing for the college entrance exams. So I didn't have any time to read anything. Since I have more time now, I want to take a good look around the book fair to buy some books I like."

She can choose from 150,000 titles of all kinds. But some people are only interested in one or two areas.

Zhou Junyi, reader, said, "I hardly have any time to sit down for a long time to read classics or books with serious topics. I only have time for light material."

One local pubisher says Zhou's reading habits are typical. He says last year, his company did a good job selling books by Nobel Prize winner Mo Yan and classics by Ernest Hemingway. But it did better selling light literature.

Li Yuantao, vice president of Shanghai Century Publishing Gp., said, "Nowadays, if the presses choose to publish more light reading material, they surely get more market share. For us, we tried to stick to the spirit of culture and academics. But that policy lowered our sales a bit last year."

Li won't say how much his company is affected when culture and academic reading material doesn't sell well, but says it's trying to work with writers to make serious reading more attractive. He says last year, his company published a book focusing on the rise of China as a global power. It sold up to 700,000 copies. And Li calls that a success.

Li said, "The book is politics-related. But we choose some issues that are closely connected to people's daily lives to explain the development of China instead of from a macro-angle. That aroused interest and concern from the public, because they are more familar with that. "

And some book stores are also trying a new approach. At this one in downtown Huangpu District, many of the best sellers are light books such as "Tiny Times" and "Big Data Times." But while these books are definitely on the recommendation shelves, store managers are trying something different - putting serious books together with light ones.

Dong Chenxu, assistant manager of popular bookmall, said, "We hope that readers will pick up books such as "Biography of Deng Xiaoping," when buying "Tiny Times." Meanwhile, the serious books we choose will surely have potential buyers according to our sales records. So, we think they are worth recommending."

Dong says in addition to the recommendation shelf, the store also has shelves specially for women, older people, and has one section of books just for pondering.


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