Xinhua Bookstore Makes Changes Before 80th Birthday

Xinhua Bookstore, China's largest state-owned bookstore chain, will turn 80 years old in 2017, and as that milestone approaches the retailer is undergoing significant changes to keep pace with shifts in Chinese reading habits and lifestyle, reported the Global Times.

Some key takeaways about China's book industry:
  • China saw its own wave of bookstore closures some five or six years ago, during which both privately owned and state-owned bookstores shut their doors. According to the Global Times, these closures were a result of more and more Chinese readers choosing e-books over physical books.
  • Since then, China has also seen a bookstore resurgence. In Shanghai and other major cities, new, privately owned bookstores have been opening within the past few years, and these bookstore have an emphasis on programs and events, cafe and beverage service, and striking displays and interior design.
  • Last week, China held its third annual China Physical Bookstore Innovation & Development Conference. Directors from more than 50 bookstores and managers from more than 30 publishing groups attended. Most of the bookstore attendees, said the Global Times, came from state-owned bookstores.
  • This June, the Publicity Department of the Communist Party's Central Committee announced a stimulus plan to support physical bookstores, which would give them "preferential taxation and policies."
  • To help stay competitive with the competition, Xinhua Bookstore is opening new-style bookstores of its own in various cities, and existing locations have begun to expand their cultural events programs. Some of those locations have reportedly doubled or tripled their revenue.
  • To help expand Xinhua's reach to smaller cities and towns, some stores in Zhejiang Province have set up a system of middlemen who buy books in the large cities and then deliver them to rural customers. By the end of 2015, "Zhejian had 405 such stations, which garnered 105 million yuan [about $15.8 million] in total for one year."
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