China launched a series of activities from April to October to promote the book reading habit among its citizens, especially children, young people, women and rural residents.
The Publicity Department of the Communist Party of China Central Committee and the General Administration of Press and Publication said the campaign aims to promote a book reading habit, especially among young Chinese who are under the direct influence of pop culture.
The activities include book discounts, prize contests for book reports, opening of new libraries in rural areas and urban communities, and book donations to disaster and poverty-stricken areas.
Statistics showed that the country's book purchase and reading rate was declining in recent years. In 2008, the book purchase rate was 1.75 book per family per year and the book reading rate was 34.7 percent, 14 percent lower than the figure of 2005, according to a national survey by China Institute of Publication Science. The survey revealed that about half of the people said they did not read because they did not have time, while 43 percent said they did not have the habit of reading.
"I don't have time to read books," Alex Chang, a 24-year-old accountant, said. However, he did find time recently to read a 260,000-word book titled A Story of Lala's Promotion about the experience of a white-collar employee. "It's quite useful for workers like us," he said.
Under the program, bookstores were asked to extend their trading hours and to offer more discounts from April 23. Also included are plans to open new libraries and an appeal for book donations.
Luo Hongmei, a Beijing bookstore owner, said her business has made little money since it opened last July. "Young readers read online. Money we make from selling books each month is on par with the coffee we sell," she said.