More people are reading on screens, not on paper

08:25, May 07, 2010      

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The value of the digital publishing industry surpassed that of the traditional publishing industry last year for the first time in China, according to a blue book on the cultural industry released on Thursday.

The scale of the digital publishing industry hit an unprecedented high of 75 billion yuan ($11 billion) last year, up by 40 percent year on year, the blue book said.

"Online books, cell phone books and digital books have become popular among Chinese readers," Zhang Xiaoming, deputy director of the Cultural Research Center under the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, said at a press conference.

The country's cultural industry totaled about 800 billion yuan in 2009, according to an annual report on the industry's development released by Social Sciences Academic Press on Thursday.

The report says most of China's publishing houses have started producing of digital books.

About 75 percent of newspapers have launched online papers and 55 percent of them are providing SMS (short message service) news, the report says.

About 2.8 percent of Chinese adults have stopped reading anything on paper and have become loyal readers of digitally published products, the report said.

The users of digital publishing services is expected to increase by 30 percent annually in the next few years, and its industry value will see an annual increase of 50 percent, Zhang said.

The number of cell phone users in China reached 780 million at the end of March, of which 155 million are mobile readers, according to figures from China's Ministry of Industry and Information Technology.

China Mobile, the world's biggest cell phone carrier in terms of subscribers, runs e-book stores and provides wireless access to online publications, such as e-books, comics and magazines.

The subscription fee for its online e-book store is up to five yuan per month, 40 percent of which will be shared with copyright owners, according to China Mobile.

Interest in e-books from companies such as Hanwang Technology, and Founder is significantly boosting market demand for electronic reading, experts said.

Companies including Nokia, Motorola, and Datang have released products that support China Mobile's new services and more e-book makers are establishing their own online e-book stores, putting them in competition with China Mobile.

"In recent years, the scale of the traditional publishing industry has remained at around 50 to 60 billion yuan a year, and it relies heavily on textbook publishing," Gao Shusheng, an official with the publicity department of the Communist Party of China Central Committee, said in an earlier interview.

"Many publishing houses are facing a crisis and digital publishing might help them break the ice," he said.

Yan Xiaohong, deputy director of General Administration of Press and Publication, also said mobile reading has shown strong vitality and huge market potential in China.

"I spent 15 yuan on mobile reading last year, and I'm planning to buy an electric book this month," said Yang Jie, a 27-year-old Beijinger.

Reading an electric book on the bus is "fashionable," and three to five yuan for reading an electric book online is affordable, she said.

"It is cool that I no longer have to carry heavy paper books," she said.

Source:China Daily


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