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China’s brick-and-mortar bookstores boost profits with diversified products

(People's Daily Online)    14:52, May 07, 2020

Offering a greater range of services, such as cultural and creative products, has become the main trend in the process of transformation for a growing number of Chinese brick-and-mortar bookstores.

The photo shows a collection of books and cultural and creative products in a bookstore in east China's Shanghai. (Photo by Wang Gang/People’s Daily)

In the past three years, Hubei Xinhua Bookstore in central China's Hubei province has turned to a compound mode of business operations to increase profits, selling cultural and creative products including stationery alongside books. In addition, cafés, cultural salons, and training programs have become essential parts of its outlets.

"Cultural and creative products have become an important part of the physical bookstores' transformation, as they expand our services, make the stores more attractive and increase our profits," said Zhao Li, a manager with the bookstore chain.

So far, it has opened up about 40 cafés and 106 stationery outlets in its bookstores across the province, and its self-developed cultural and creative products have also been gaining popularity.

Marketable cultural and creative products can generate considerable earnings for a bookstore, said Cheng Zhou, manager of a bookstore at the Beijing Language and Culture University. The bookstore's revenue from cultural and creative products totalled nearly 500,000 yuan in 2019.

Currently, most bookstores mainly offer well-known and distinctive cultural and creative products, rather than develop them by themselves, due to the high cost of development, difficulty in pricing, and lack of diversified distribution channels, said Fu Shuai, general manager of the FLTRP Bookstore in Beijing.

Suzhou Momicafe Books Co., Ltd. based in Suzhou, east China's Jiangsu province, is one of the few bookstores that has an independent cultural and creative product department and design department, according to Xu Tao, founder of the bookstore chain. The company's cultural and creative products, such as music boxes and postcards, have become very popular in recent years.

Hubei Xinhua Bookstore also has a company that specializes in developing cultural and creative products.

Industry insiders have also called for competition between similar businesses to be avoided and for the hiring of sharp-sighted employees who can choose products with distinctive features.


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