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Lifeline thrown to city's bookstores

[ 2012-02-29 10:59]     字号 [] [] []  
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Shanghai is offering 5 million yuan ($793,800) to support book retailers who find themselves in harsh competition with their online counterparts, the municipal government announced on Tuesday.

Besides the major branches of State-owned Xinhua Bookstores, the money will go largely to private bookshops that play a significant role in enriching people's cultural lives, according to Kan Ninghui, deputy director of the city's press and publication bureau.

This is the first time a local government in China has introduced policies to support offline bookstores.

The subsidy is part of an annual allocation of 15 million yuan in support of the city's publication and book marketing infrastructure. The city plans to keep investing at the same scale for at least five years.

The offline book retailers' industry has been under increasing pressure due to factors such as rising rents, online competition and changed reading habits.

Earlier this month, the largest bookstore on Huaihai Road, a branch shop of Shanghai BookMall, closed because of its poor performance, according to Xinmin Evening News.

"We can't wait any longer to support and help bookstores through hardship," Kan said at a municipal news conference on Tuesday. A lively network of bookshops and newsstands is important to the cultural ecology of a city, he said.

Bookshops, State-owned bookstore chains and private establishments are encouraged to log on to the bureau website, submit materials and applications. A jury made up of academics, readers and industry insiders will choose who will receive the financial support, either in the form of subsidy, prize money or subsidized loans, among other means of financial aid.

The process will be public, fair and just, Kan said. Bookstores will be evaluated for their service, environment and contribution to local cultural activity. Bookshops in university towns, the Central Business District and residential communities will all be considered, as well as small shops in the countryside.

There are 6,000-7,000 registered retailers of books, newspapers and other publications whose annual sales volume totals 11 billion yuan, Kan said.

Private bookstores responded enthusiastically to the new policy. Shi Jianfeng, who opened a small bookshop-library named 2666 in a community of Jing'an district, said that the subsidy will help the shop deal with the pressure of rent costs.

Yan Bofei, president of Jifeng Bookstore chain, with three shops, said the policy was a positive step on a long journey. He suggested that more policies and regulations might come up for discussion in the future.

The publishing industry gave positive feedback, too. Huang Yuning, head of the literature department at Shanghai Translation Publishing House, said shops that display actual books encourage people to read and have irreplaceable advantages over online shops.

(中国日报网英语点津 Helen 编辑)

Lifeline thrown to city's bookstores

About the broadcaster:

Lifeline thrown to city's bookstores

Nelly Min is an editor at China Daily with more than 10 years of experience as a newspaper editor and photographer. She has worked at major newspapers in the U.S., including the Los Angeles Times and the Detroit Free Press. She is also fluent in Korean.