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China's Big Readers in Small Towns

Pub Date:16-12-26 08:28 Source:Xinhua

Guess where the most philobiblic people are in China?

According to Amazon.cn, people in Baotou of Inner Mongolia read more than anywhere else in China, followed by Huai'an in east China's Jiangsu province, Jinhua in Zhejiang, Hohhot in Inner Mongolia and Lanzhou in Gansu.

The list was made based on the ratio of book sales to Amazon's total sales in different cities. Urumqi, Hefei, Weifang, Wenzhou and Zhengzhou made up the remainder of the top ten.

Amazon.cn began releasing this kind of report in 2004. Of this year's top ten, most are small and medium-sized cities.

The report also showed that readers in different cities read different books. For instance, it is textboks in Hohhot, whereas in Urumqi people seem to be studying English. In Hefei, traditional Chinese literature, and in Wenzhou, it seems that children are doing much of the reading.

Jiang Tao from Urumqi, capital of northwest China's Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region, was surprised that the city ranked sixth on the list. Jiang spends 3,000 to 5,000 yuan (400-700 U.S. dollars) on books a year, his largest expenditure after housing, food and transport.

"I was quite surprised. Urumqi's economy, culture and social development don't stand comparison to many other cities. I didn't expect people to be reading so much," he said.

Working in tourism, Jiang reads books on local geography, culture and history. The Xinhua Book Store in Urumqi is one of China's top ten book stores, and also the largest public reading venue in the city. At the weekend, it is usually packed full.

Jin Lan, deputy manager of the international department of the store, said online book sales did not affect the store.

"We don't just sell books here. The store has a pleasant reading environment," he said.

Four of the top ten cities on the Amazon list are in western China, considered less developed than the eastern coast.

"This suggests that reading is not much affected by economic conditions," he said.

Ren Xuelan enjoys reading time with her daughter every evening.

"Urumqi has a wide variety of cultures. People are open-minded and have a broad interest in reading. We are often inspired by what books people around us are reading," she said.

Technology allows people in Inner Mongolia to select books 24 hours a day from the region's largest public library.

"We don't have to worry about the library closing, since the E-library gets us the books that we want to borrow," said Harina, a student with Inner Mongolia University.

Zhang Shujie, technology chief of the library, said the E-library would expand to outlets in transport hubs, hospitals, residential communities and shopping malls, but such 24-hour libraries exist in many cities.

In Hefei, capital of Anhui province and hometown of Nobel Prize winner Chen-Ning Yang, four such libraries opened in October, and rural readers can access 100,000 ebooks with a phone app.

Local bookshop owner Buliu sees a big demand for books. Five years ago he opened a reading cafe "Paul Pocket."

"I am honored to see our city so high on the list," he told Xinhua, "because the purchasing power in our city is not very high."

Although big cities such as Beijing and Shanghai are not on the list, it doesn't mean that people there don't read books.

In another list by Amazon.cn of cities where people read most digital books, Beijing and Shanghai were numbers one and two, followed by Shenzhen, Guangzhou and Chengdu.


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