Biz / Tech

Bookworms are big business

Readers choosing paper over pixels.

Despite a perception that readers are choosing pixels over pages, sales of hard copy books through Tmall reached 1 billion while the number of orders for hard copy and digital books jumped 17 percent from a year ago, Alibaba says.

The average reader bought 5.5 hard copy books from Alibaba’s retailing platform last year — 60 percent of them women.

And the post-1980s generation make up the three quarters of the country’s overall readership.

The total amount of reading time has also picked up thanks to more convenient purchasing channels and popular e-reading services, according to Alibaba's online retail platform Tmall and Alibaba's literature arm.

New readers, or those who purchased digital or paper books for the first time last year, reached 30 million, most of whom are under 30.

A total of 1 billion paper books worth 50 billion yuan were sold through Tmall in the past year, and nearly half the readers took up both physical and virtual forms for reading.

Shanghai has the highest number of readers and also sold the most second-hand books through Alibaba's online flea market Xianyu.

They've shown particular preference for vocational and foreign books.

Beijing and Guangzhou are the next biggest book buyers.

Tmall's online reading platform attracted 25 million digital book orders after its launch in mid 2018.

Younger readers like pixels and are more inclined towards digital gadgets with those born after the 90s making up 46 percent of the total digital reading population.

Overseas orders for books on Tmall also boomed — doubling from a year ago with the most popular categories being educational materials, children's books and art.

The Chinese Academy of Press and Publication says the number of people using digital devices rising 73 percent in 2017 after 69 percent growth in 2016.

Shen Xinyi / SHINE
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