Ren Jing considers herself a bit of a bookworm.
She reads book reviews on popular websites, visits online bookstores
and buys at least five books a month.
But the problem is, she never has time to read them.
Ren, a 27-year-old public relations manager, is among a growing number
of Chinese people who are finding it increasingly difficult to find the
time to read each day because of their busy schedules.
It's this sort of trend that has sent alarm bells ringing across China
that perhaps not enough people are burying their heads in a book once in a
A national survey conducted last year by the China Institute of Public
Science revealed that only 48.7 percent of the population read books, a
decrease for the sixth consecutive year.
Meanwhile, the number of people using the Internet in China increased
drastically to 136 million by the end of last year, perhaps an indicator
that more people's reading habits are vastly changing.
Even the country's publishing industry is feeling the pinch.
The Yilin Press, a leading publisher in China, has been grappling with
how to cope with losing many of its readers to digital media.
"There were times when we used to sell more than 1 million copies of a
book," Zhao Wei, a Yilin Press director, said.
"Now a book is considered a bestseller when its sales reach about
Chen Li, deputy director of the National Library, blamed current social
values that encourage overnight fame and success - instead of good old
"Many people forget how important it is to read and study to cultivate
their creativeness and skills."
Xia Xueluan, a sociology professor at Peking University, said: "It is
an era of reading pictures from magazine or websites. People like
sensational and visual impact."
However, Xia warned: "Books offer the essence of theories, which cannot
be gained by only reading 'fast-food' information