Books are alive

Not the end of print

Contrary to the prediction of many, books are alive, in print.
The year 2018 has been, much to everyone’s surprise, a blockbuster for the publishing industry. Despite the relentless bad news, readers have bought books in droves. Hardcover sales are up, and unit sales at independent bookstores have risen 5%.
But what should be good news for publishers, agents and authors has created headaches during the crucial holiday sales season, as printing presses struggle to keep up with a surge in demand, creating a backlog that has led to stock shortages of popular titles.
The biggest cause of the bottleneck, publishers and agents say, is consolidation and collapse among printing companies.
The printing industry has its own problems, including paper shortages and price increases. And the low unemployment rate has made it harder for printers to hire additional workers.
Surprisingly, some of the current chaos has come about because the publishing industry is not only stable but seems to be thriving. After years of declining print sales, hardcover and paperback editions have been rising recently, while e-book sales have fallen.

The full story

Read the full story here:
23 December 2018 – Bottleneck at Printers Has Derailed Some Holiday Book Sales
The New York Times
https://www.nytimes.com/2018/12/23/books/paper-printers-holiday-sales-books-publishers.html

Alive and thriving, illustrated by cartoons

 

Some consider book readers to be “suspicious” people, as per a French cartoon (“I am worried, he has bad friends… they all read books.”)
And a double-meaning cartoon in French gives the correct message: “This is one of the big pleasures in life… Read a book!” (If you see something else, please consult a psychologist!)
Reading a book is indeed taking a bath in culture and dreaming.
Obviously there are countries where bookshops are closing in favor of more sinister outlets…
And some of the young might be clueless looking at a “book” (with no batteries).

The China e-book market

A surge in digital

As already mentioned in an earlier post Chinese are reading books indeed but with a considerable increase of digital. The China e-book market is getting very big indeed.
Again here some data from 2017 showing the boom.

The publishing industry has gone digital in a big way, spawning a market comprising 300 million users of mobile devices who read electronic books in China.
The market, which has two key sections in hardware (reading devices) and software (e-books), reached about 12 billion yuan ($1.7 billion) in sales in 2016, up 25% year-on-year, according to a report by the China Audio-Video and Digital Publishing Association.
Three million e-book reading devices were sold in 2011. But the figure declined to 1.89 million units in 2013, only to rebound later, with annual growth rate exceeding 15% in 2014.
In 2015, 2.26 million e-book readers were sold; the figure rose to 2.34 million units in 2016.
Amazon announced a strategic partnership with Migu Culture and Technology Group Co, a subsidiary of China Mobile Communications Corp, and also launched a feature-rich Kindle created exclusively for Chinese readers.
The device presents more than 460,000 Kindle e-books and over 400,000 online literature titles from Migu, one of the largest online literature platforms in China.
The made-for-China Kindle X Migu device retails for 658 yuan. “China has become the largest market in the world for Kindle and enjoys a very strong growth momentum,” Amazon China.

Amazon is not the only company betting big on e-book readers in China. Beijing-based iReader Technology Co Ltd released its latest e-book reader called the iReader Light in early September 2016. The device weighs only 142 grams, and is priced 658 yuan.
iReader Technology said more than 100 million people across 150 countries use the iReader to read e-books each month.
Online shopping major JD.com Inc launched its JDRead last year. Priced 769 yuan, the JDRead device can access about 300,000 e-books.

Male users outnumber female users in China, and all of them are younger. In this respect, the China market is different from the US market where 70% of users are female and older.

Surge in content

A new business has emerged in China that makes money by serializing and publishing digital literature, including novels, for users of hand-held devices.
Aspiring authors now serve numerous literary works to millions of online readers through platforms such as China Reading, a literature-focused arm of Tencent Holdings Ltd, which is best known for its all-in-one app WeChat.
Founded in 2015, the Tencent company boasts 4 million novelists on its contributor list and 600 million users in China. The more than 10 million original novels for which it holds rights span nearly 200 genres.
A recent report by iResearch Consulting Group said a growing number of Chinese are reading e-books on mobile devices rather than PCs. Some 265 million Chinese read e-books on mobile devices and 217 million read e-books on PCs, it said.
In 2016, China Reading paid nearly 1 billion yuan to novelists, which proves the company owns a mature business model to support the operation, said iResearch.

Dong Qianqiu, at iQiyi.com Inc, said during an annual technology and entertainment conference in early June 2017 that online literature would become the mainstream in the future.
“The internet not only works simply as a medium but appears fashionable, trendy. With more than 300 million users who love reading digital literature, the market is worth 10 million yuan in China. Powered by online subscriptions and copyright trading models, the online literature market will grow rapidly in the future.”

The full articles

See here the different sources used:

10 July 2017 – Digital page turner
By Fan Feifei – China Daily USA
http://usa.chinadaily.com.cn/epaper/2017-07/10/content_30057954.htm

10 July 2017 – Mobile literature hits pay dirt as millennials bookend market
By Ouyang Shijia – China Daily USA
http://usa.chinadaily.com.cn/epaper/2017-07/10/content_30057953.htm

Chinese are reading books

A changing landscape

Chinese are reading books, yes, but while print is far from dead, digital is making a constant progress.
Here some book market data from 2017 when the changing habits became clear.

Chinese adults read an average of just under eight books in 2016 – a tiny increase of 0.02% over 2015 – while a rapid increase of 6.1% was seen in the number of people reading digital content. In 2016, an adult Chinese read paper books for an average of about 20 minutes. They read up to about 74 minutes on mobile devices, 3.7 times higher than paper book-reading time.
Of the nearly eight books read by an average adult in 2016, about five were in print form and three were digital. Wei said similar surveys of readers from European countries and the United States show that they read 10 titles a year, while Japanese read 12.
The survey also found that more than 17% of Chinese used audio books last year, a fairly new trend. Romance, history, languages and lectures were the favored audio content. My (Chinese) wife listen the whole day to Chinese audio books, she says it is easy and relaxing.
And despite the slight increase in the number of books read on average, it is a worrying trend that more and more Chinese adults engage in casual and superficial reading.

For the question, “Where’d all the time go?” President Xi Jinping has a simple answer: Make time outside of work to study. When he worked in rural Shaanxi province, he walked 15 kilometers to borrow a book, he would read while eating, and he frequently recommends books to officials. Reading is a habit. It’s a way of life. “Reading keeps the mind alive, gives people wisdom and inspiration, and cultivates a noble spirit.”

Trading used books online

Duo Zhua Yu, or Deja Vu, is an online secondhand bookshop that buys secondhand books at between 20 and 40% of their original price and sells them at between 30 and 55% of their original price.
Duo Zhua Yu was founded in January 2017 and had soon won a large following of people.
During the 2018 Singles Day online shopping spree, Duo Zhua Yu said it would pay more for the books it bought for 24 hours and in doing so its inventory swelled with the addition of 100,000 books, which it says is five times the number of books it usually buys each day.
Wei Ying, 32, founder of Duo Zhua Yu and a former employee of the e-commerce company Alibaba, says the idea of opening an online secondhand bookstore arose from her experience selling old books and CDs when she was a university student in Beijing.
The dream of running a secondhand shop thus took root in Wei’s mind, and in January last year she quit Alibaba, starting her online secondhand bookshop.

Wei Ying

Wei Ying, founder of Duo Zhua Yu and a former employee of the e-commerce company Alibaba

Her business started from groups in the social media app WeChat and she later set up a WeChat official account, with a mini-program to run the business. In March last year Wei had 5,000 books stored in her house in Wangjing, northeastern Beijing. After a year’s growth, the warehouse she rented in a Beijing suburb had more than 20,000 books.
Continuing growth forced her to move twice as she sought more space to store all the secondhand books she received, once to Langfang in Hebei province and again to Tianjin. In July there were over 700,000 books in her 7,000-square-meter warehouse in Tianjin, Wei says.
Though online secondhand book stores provide plenty of convenience and seem to have bright prospects, more conventional, physical bookshops, are still showing their resilience. During the National Day holiday in October, Duo Zhua Yu rented a shop in Beijing for a week, its first offline store, and says it sold 180,000 secondhand books in just six days.

Other online secondhand book stores include Zhuan Zhuan (Exchange) and Manyou Jing (Wandering Whale), which have official accounts or mini-programs on WeChat.

The earliest secondhand bookshop

Whenever somebody is asked about the earliest online secondhand book-selling platform in China, chances are that it will be Kongfuzi Jiushu Wang (Confucius Old Book website). The site was set up in 2002, eight years after the internet arrived in China.
Though the website is well-known for selling secondhand books, its founder, Sun Yutian, prefers to call the site’s wares “old books”.
If you scan the website you will soon see that plenty of books it sells are ancient ones, including the classics of traditional Chinese culture, whose admirers are as almost as rare as the books they love.
“What I did was build a platform to let more book lovers find all the books they want, no matter whether the books are new or ancient, bestsellers or non-bestsellers.”
Ultimately the aim is to provide customers with books they cannot buy elsewhere, he says.
The website is run on the model of customer to customer, or C2C. People run their online shop at a low price, paying 100 yuan ($15) to 600 yuan annually or pay 4 percent of their income with the platform.
More than 70,000 stores sell in excess of 100 million books on Kongfuzi he says, and more than 10 million people have bought books from the platform. By the end of October Kongfuzi had had turnover of nearly 800 million yuan, he says.

The full articles

See here the different sources used:

19 April 2017 “Readers on rise, mostly in digital”
By Mei Jia – China Daily
http://usa.chinadaily.com.cn/epaper/2017-04/19/content_28996791.htm

21 April 2017 “Joy of reading is being lost in the digital age”
China Daily
http://usa.chinadaily.com.cn/epaper/2017-04/21/content_29030685.htm

25 April 2017 “Reading is a habit and keeps the mind alive”
China Daily
http://wap.chinadaily.com.cn/2017-04/25/content_29068258.htm

8 December 2018 “Tomes that roam in the ether”
By Jiang Yijing – China Daily
http://africa.chinadaily.com.cn/a/201812/08/WS5c0b4e33a310eff30328fde2.html

8 December 2018 – The rarified atmosphere of an online bookshop
By Jiang Yijing | China Daily
http://usa.chinadaily.com.cn/a/201812/08/WS5c0b6f67a310eff30328fdf8.html

Frank Gallo received my book

Meeting an old friend

On 12 December 2018 Frank Gallo received my book Laugh and Get Wiser, over a dinner in Legend Beer.
Frank moved from Beijing to Guangzhou but when visiting Beijing we try to catch up on gossip and books. Frank is also a well-known author.
Frank wrote the back page of my first book Toxic Capitalism, see:
Frank Gallo and my book

Dinner is served

We had a number of beers and several nice dishes, the duck head obviously ordered by my friend who also tried some snooker to run away from our chitchat.

Come back again soon Frank!

Stress In The City

How it all started

When the author Enoch Li went through her depression, slowly the idea for her book “Stress In The City” was created.
See also my earlier post: https://www.damulu.com/2019/06/19/depression-and-stress-in-the-city/ 
Her earlier thoughts can be traced back on her blog: http://nochnoch.com/about-blog/ 
She explains her road to a complete breakdown:

“Beginning November 2009 I got physically ill, to the extent that I was in the hospital every 2-3 days, and all I could do was lie around at home with no energy to even read a book or watch TV. The pain in my head was excruciating, like a million jackhammers pounding on me.  Extending from the physical side of things, I spiraled down mentally and emotionally till I sunk into severe depression. For almost 3 years, I trudged through what seemed like never-ending darkness.

End of 2009, my body had enough, and everything exploded. I came to a complete breakdown.”

That let her to write an e-book “Pull yourself together – Bridging the communication gap between the depressed and those who love them.”
It is here available as a free download:
http://nochnoch.com/2015/10/10/a-hope-to-help-free-ebook-download/#.VmBIg3tPKOA

Enoch explains:

 “This inspiration for this free Ebook on depression came from the 1000+ comments to the post on our Founder’s blog, NochNoch, “10 things not to say to a depressed person”, she realized that there was a marked misunderstanding between the depressed and those who are not. Perhaps it was someone who wanted to help but did not know how, or depressed persons who could not communicate their lethargies to others. A rift ensued, fueling anger, frustration, and even hatred and despite. Having been on both sides, she decided to write about this, in the aim of elucidating her perspectives on how we could communicate with empathy and help those who needed it.”

See her blog for more details.

Reading Stress In The City

I read the book and found it fascinating. And I joked I was looking into dogerapy as an alternative.

See here part of my personal comments (edited) I sent to her:

– Your description – brutally honest – of your misery during your depression, and how you slowly came out of it, is in my opinion the best part of the book. It must give others more courage to admit, yes, this is also how they feel, they are not alone.
– Like you said, people often think getting out of the depression just needs some personal efforts, will power, blablabla. Of course that does not work.
– I was a bit “puzzled” on how, in the first part of the book, Tim does nearly not appear, me even wondering, was he with you? You were alone? The guy is an angel of patience. I would probably have given up. How did you two go through that long period? Was Tim just sharing the apartment with “a zombie”? How did he react when you were in this horrible state? That one side of the story bugged me.

Enoch replies

Her husband Tim was indeed an angel. helping her to go through it all:

“For most part it was self-loathing on my side and Tim just had to tolerate it. His biggest job was just to make sure I was alive. He would sometimes sit with me when I cried or howled or stomped in tantrums, sometimes he held me, sometimes he just was there and that was enough. He was the one who dragged me to the doctor’s, who called the taxi in the winter and drove me to ER. He was always on alert in case I called him or he had to call and check on me.”

This article talks a bit more about his experience:
“World Mental Health Day 2018: how husband helped wife fight severe depression.”
9 October 2018 by Lise Floris
“Enoch Li was diagnosed with depression in 2009. Husband Tim Coghlan tells how, with his help and through therapy, she overcame it and the relapses that followed, and the impact her illness had on him.”
Read the full story:
https://www.scmp.com/lifestyle/health-wellness/article/2167481/world-mental-health-day-2018-how-husband-helped-wife-fight
(China: needs VPN…)