A Chinese spent 4 US dollars buying books on average in 2004, which shows a large potential publishing market in the country with population of 1.3 billion, a senior official in charge of the publishing industry said.
The expenses on books per head were not more than 4 per capita in China in 2004, according to Wu Shulin, the deputy director of the General Administration of Press and Publication, who attended 2005 Beijing International Publishing Forum in Beijing on Tuesday.
In contrast, statistics show Americans spent 93 dollars and a French man spent 122 dollars in buying books on average in 1999.
The Chinese publishing output value maintained a 10-20 percent growth in the 1980s, a rather big rate in the world at that time. In the late 1990s, the speed fluctuated between 8-10 percent, which kept its space with the Chinese GDP growth by and large.
The per capita possession of publishing resources in China, however, has been smaller than in other countries. In terms of paper consumption amount, another index to a country's publishing industry, Chinese people consume 10.44 kilograms per capita on average every year, far less than 146 in The United States, 118 in Japan, 112 in The United Kingdom, 94 in Germany and 93 in the Netherlands.
The numbers demonstrate China still has a large market potential in the publishing industry, Wu said.
A research report publicized by the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences in July found that 86 percent of the 2,367 Chinese respondents usually read newspapers, 56 percent usually read books and 53 percent usually read magazines. The three percentages ranked second, third and forth among the six mentioned media - also including radio, TV and Internet - in the report.
"They prove the living importance of publications in people's lives," said Li Bing, a deputy director of the Information Office of the State Council.
The per capita GDP in China has exceeded 1,000 US dollars, with the Engel Coefficient below 40 percent in cities and below 50 in rural areas.
The coefficient is expected to continue to fall following China's economic development, and the people's demand for cultural productions will soar, Wu said.
"The 370 million youngsters in China are the hope of the prosperity of the Chinese publishing industry," he said.