[photopress:it_online_books.jpg,full,alignright]A report issued by AC Nielsen shows that China buys more books online than any other country.
About 63% of Chinese Internet users had made online purchases and 56% of the purchasers had bought reading materials, the highest ratio in the world.
Li Guoqing, CEO of Dangdang.com, China’s biggest online bookseller said, ‘The figure hasn’t been updated yet, but the rate is definitely going higher.’
However, that is the Internet. Looked at another way the picture is not so rosy.
According to the fourth national reading survey released by China Research Institute of Publishing Science there is a decrease in China’s national reading ratio over the past six years.
Access through the Internet will probably change this. Qu Mingying, a researcher with the institute said, ‘Online bookstores made it possible for people to have access to more options, at the same time, boosting the print book market.’
What does this mean for traditional bookstores? A sales clerk at a traditional bookstore in Beijing said, ‘Many people come to our bookstore, just to write down the names of the books they want and then go online shopping. We are embarrassed.’
A fierce price war is taking shape between traditional bookstores and their online counterparts. Faced with the low-cost advantage of online bookstores, traditional ones can do nothing but lower the prices.
During the recent release of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Joyo.com (think Amazon) offered the book at about 70% of its regular price. As a result, traditional bookstores, especially chains and large-sized ones also have to cut the price sharply.
Huang Yuhai, chairman of 99read.com, another online bookseller, said that online-bookstores pose no threat to traditional ones, instead can serve as a beneficial complement. He said, ‘The total sales volume of three online bookstores including Dangdang, Joyo, and 99read reached RMB500 million ($66.7 million), taking up only 2% of the book market in China while Amazon.com alone holds 40 to 50% of the American market.’ And as far as is known all online bookshops are still operating at a loss.
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