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People's Daily Online>>China Society

Lifeline thrown to city's bookstores

By Zhang Kun  (China Daily)

08:34, February 29, 2012

Customers browse the shelves of Longzhimei Advertisement Bookstore in Shanghai on Monday, before it closes for business. (Niu Yixin / for China Daily)

SHANGHAI - The city is offering 5 million yuan ($793,800) to support book retailers who find themselves in harsh competition against their online counterparts, the municipal government announced on Tuesday.

Besides the major branches of State-owned Xinhua Bookstores, the money will go largely to private bookshops that play a significant role in enriching people's cultural lives, according to Kan Ninghui, deputy director of the city's press and publication bureau.

This is the first time a local government in China has introduced policies to support offline bookstores.

The subsidy is part of an annual allocation of 15 million yuan in support of the city's publication and book marketing infrastructure. The city plans to keep investing at the same scale for at least five years.

The offline book retailers' industry has been under increasing pressure due to factors including rising rent costs, online competition and changed reading habits.

Earlier this month, the largest bookstore on Huaihai Road, a branch shop of Shanghai Book Mall, closed because of its poor performance, according to Xinmin Evening News.

"We can't wait any longer to support and help bookstores through hardship," Kan said at a municipal news conference on Tuesday. A lively network of bookshops and newsstands is important to the cultural ecology of a city, he said. "It's of key importance to cultivate and maintain such an ecology."

Bookshops, State-owned bookstore chains and private establishments are encouraged to log on to the bureau website, submit materials and make applications. A jury made up of academics, readers and industry insiders will choose who will receive the financial support, either in the form of subsidy, prize money or subsidized loans, among other means of financial aid.

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