Swamped publishers in Zhuozhou try to rebuild

2023-08-16 09:44:54China Daily Editor : Li Yan ECNS App Download

Businessman Yuan Longshuang assesses his losses on Aug 9 in Zhuozhou, Hebei province, after his book warehouse was flooded. (LI ZHENGNI/FOR CHINA DAILY)

With floodwaters gradually receding in Zhuozhou, Hebei province, owners of publishing warehouses have begun tallying their losses and salvaging books not left waterlogged.

The flooding, caused by recent torrential rains, has caused estimated losses of more than 10 billion yuan ($1.37 billion) for the book industry alone in the city, with warehouses filled with soggy books.

BooksChina, one of China's biggest online booksellers, is one of many in Zhuozhou counting the costs.

The city, located to the southwest of Beijing, is home to over 100 publishing houses and has warehouses covering some 27 hectares.

BooksChina said nearly 80 percent of its warehouse stock, totaling 4 million books, has been soaked, with an estimated economic loss of nearly 300 million yuan.

Supporters of the bookseller have come to the company's aid by purchasing special "aid packages" consisting of four books, a metal bookmark and a commemorative badge. A total of more than 171,000 such packages had been sold as of Tuesday.

For less well-known publishing houses, making up for their losses is much more difficult.

Yang Yibo, a manager at Beijing Jiwen Tianxia Cultural Development Co, said employees have been working hard to clear the mud at the warehouses.

He told media outlet Jiemian the company had launched its own "aid packages" on various online platforms, which have been sold around 1,000 times.

They have also been packaging books that have not been soaked into sets, and around 300 to 500 sets have been sold, he said.

However, the money is still not enough for the company to rebuild itself.

As the company mainly sells books to schools and libraries, it is not well-known online, so it has not received much attention from netizens, Yang said.

Yang Zi, an editor at publisher Huyang Culture, said she and her co-workers have been busy trying to salvage undamaged books since Aug 7.

Most of the public attention has gone to BooksChina, and smaller brands that have sustained major losses have not got much attention, she said.

The company has lost 4 million yuan in books, equivalent to half a year of sales revenue, according to Yang Zi.

She said the company does not plan to launch "aid packages" like some others. Instead, it wants readers to focus more on the content of the books, so it will pay more attention to promoting the books it is about to launch, which is the key for its future survival.

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