Sales down at city's physical bookstores

Ke Jiayun
Report shows book sales at brick-and-mortar stores in the first half dropped due to the novel coronavirus pandemic, while sales of books related to COVID-19 increased.
Ke Jiayun

The sales of books at domestic brick-and-mortar stores in the first half of the year dropped by more than 30 percent compared with the same period last year due to the novel coronavirus epidemic, while sales of books related to COVID-19 increased, according to a report.

The report, by publishing data platform Centrin and released at a bookstore forum of the Shanghai Book Fair on Thursday, collected data from more than 6,500 physical bookstores and over 3,400 online stores in China.

The gap between discounts offered by online and offline bookstores is growing bigger, the report found, with the average discount on online sales up by about 2 percentage points and discounts for children's books mostly 40 percent off on average.

However, discounts for offline sales declined by nearly 1 percentage point with less marketing events during the pandemic.

The pandemic triggered an increase on books related to coronavirus and its prevention while books on the economy and reference books decreased because of the suspension of schools and work.

Before the pandemic, book sales had remained at a good level in January, the report said, but dropped by more than 75 percent in February. 

From March, sales have been on a gradual upwards trend.

Brick-and-mortar bookstores were struggling their way out of the shadow brought by the pandemic, according to the report.

Liu Hang, president of Shanghai Xinhua Media Co, said that during the pandemic, it launched a regional analysis on the nearly 100 Xinhua Bookstores in different districts and selected 30 to cooperate with online food delivery platforms to send books to residents' home after purchase.

Liu said the bookstores were now being transformed to make them "bookstore complexes" with educational, cultural and innovative, art and community content.

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