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Chinese people reading more, but not printed books or newspapers

By Wang Yiqing | China Daily | Updated: 2020-04-22 07:21

Passengers wearing earphones use their mobile phones during a subway trip in Wuhan, capital of Central China's Hubei province, on March 29. [Photo by Wang Jing/China Daily]

Ahead of the World Book and Copyright Day on April 23, the Chinese Academy of Press and Publication has released the 17th national reading survey, which paints a promising picture for reading habits in the internet era.

According to the survey involving 21,270 respondents in 55 cities, in 2019, the Chinese citizens' reading rate increased slightly over the year before.

Reading rate refers to the proportion of citizens regularly reading books, newspapers, magazines and digital publications.

The survey found that the daily reading time and annual reading number of paper books, printed newspapers and printed journals had declined in 2019. In contrast, digital reading had continuously increased. According to the survey, every day Chinese citizen use mobile phones for 100.41 minutes on average, 15.5 percent higher year-on-year.

The proportion of citizens reading on mobile phones, tablets, personal computers or iPads, too, had increased from the year before.

The survey reflects Chinese people's changing reading habits as mobile phones enable access to reading materials on highly efficient digital platforms. More than a half of the Chinese citizens who were interviewed were inclined to digital reading, particularly on mobile phones.

Increased digital reading translates to reduced reading of printed matter, but also pushes up total reading figures.

Another interesting result is the increasing popularity of audio books. More than 30 percent of the respondents listened to audiobooks, 4.3 percentage points higher than in 2018. It probably has something to do with the way people commute; many people in urban areas drive or take public transport for long hours, accounting for the greater appeal of audiobooks.

The survey shows that people's reading habits are in accordance with social changes. The authorities should keep pace with the changing habits and cater to people's tastes by making more reading material available on the new platforms.

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