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With only about 20 percent of its population able to read in the 1940s, China has come a long way in achieving a literacy rate of more than 96 percent. In recent years, the burgeoning digital era has further whetted the appetite of millions of bookworms, diversifying their reading habits.|
Apart from the privacy of the living room, brick-and-mortar bookstores are still a major refuge for book lovers in China. Housed in busy shopping centers or stand-alone buildings, bookshops attract many with their relaxing environment. But visitors may not always be paying customers.
"I come to the bookstore to see whether there are some new books, check the best-seller of the month, and see if there‘s something that I like," Pan Yue told CGTN.
After finding something to their taste, prospective readers leave to seek the electronic version online.
Besides buying patterns, the venues for reading have also changed.
"I do enjoy e-reading. It's convenient and a good choice for those who have long subway rides. With e-books I can find many resources online. It's the most convenient way," Pan noted.
A recent survey showed mobile devices have become the preferred way of reading and are making it more available. At the same time, reading has become an increasingly fashionable social activity. In cities like Beijing, it's easy to find a book club holding weekly activities at coffee shops.
"Though reading is more of a personal thing, discussions about books are popular on social platforms. We can make new friends through a book we all love. And by meeting offline, we take time to go deep into the text and exchange our views on the book or the writer," said He Jingtong, organizer of Solaris Book club.
Digital devices are bringing books almost everywhere in daily life. And for a good page turner, it doesn't matter whether the medium is a stack of good old paper or a nifty screen.