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【Industrial】Year-end Review: Stories of books

  • Source:CGTN | 2018-01-02
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At the end of a year, it is almost a modern ritual to retrospect the past 365 days and to make a new year's resolution. Book-lovers would usually prefer this time to count the books they've read and written down a reading list for the coming year.

According to the annual report released by the Chinese Academy of Press and Publication on the World Book Day this year, Chinese people read an average of 7.86 books in 2016, a slight increase from last year.

Even though the number is far from big enough, Chinese people's reading list has been growing longer each year, and stories of books have also started to hit the trending topic ranking on social media.

Chinese online literature goes abroad

Earlier this year, a report of Chinese online fantasy novels earning popularity among western readers has gone viral, triggering a heated discussion on China's Twitter-like platform Sina Weibo. Websites emerged, voluntary translators coming and readers gathering, the hobby-triggered community has gradually grown into an industry.

According to a Xinhua report, by the end of 2016, wuxiaworld.com, one of the most well-known websites for translation of Chinese martial arts and fantasy novels, have already had 3.62 million page views every day, sending it to the 1,536 places in the ranking list of all the world's websites.

Critics and scholars are all happy to see such phenomenon, calling it "an unprecedented exporting of Chinese culture."

"Spontaneous translation, online reading and the establishment of a fan community signify that the export of Chinese cultural ecology has begun," said Li Zejing, a Chinese literature critic.

War against plagiarism

In August, Chinese online novelist Feiwo Sicun waged the war of words against one of her peers Liu Lianzi on Sina Weibo, accusing the later of plagiarizing her novel. In a string of seven Weibo posts, Feiwo Sicun argued that Liu has made the same mistakes in the poems she mistakenly cited.

The incident later became the prelude to a large-scale campaign against plagiarism for Chinese online literature. It has been frequently discussed by insiders at various forums, and several heat TV dramas adapted from allegedly plagiarized novels were boycotted.

Suishi Literature Award, established by the Writers' Association in Tianjin, even initiated a White Lotus Award, which will be given to the worst plagiarized piece of work online. An online novel Jinxiu Weiyang (or Princess Weiyoung in English), was the first to adopt the ironic prize in October this year.

Though the prize also triggered criticism for its authority and reasonability in judging whether a novel should be alleged as "plagiarism," it is considered by many as a reflection of the Chinese's increasing awareness in copyright protection and their outrage over plagiarism.

Revival of bookstores in the era of digital-reading

The death of Robert Wu, founder of Taiwan-based Eslite Bookstore chain, on July 18, 2017, has triggered a nation-wide wave of mourning, as well as discussions over the business model and operation condition of bookstores in an era of digital reading.

However, the revived bookstores have adopted new faces. Either following the Eslite mode or others, the newly emerged bookstores not only sell books but also aim at building a new lifestyle for the audiences.

Shanghai is one of the cities that sees the opening of quite a number of independent bookstores. Xu Jiong, chief of the Press and Publication Bureau of Shanghai called the coming back of the bookstores as "a big surprise" in an earlier interview this year.

"Nearly all the newly opened bookstores have been providing cultural spaces for the readers, and have their clearing reading plans to provide to the customers. They will indeed become an important force and spaces for promoting public reading campaigns," Xu added.

Booming and opening up of libraries

In October, a newly opened library suddenly made the headlines of the Chinese media. The Tianjin Binhai Library, jointly designed by Dutch company MVRDV and Tianjin Urban Planning & Design Institution, the futuristic interior decoration has made it one of the favorite places for local residents and visitors.

On Jan 1, 2018, a law on public libraries will be put into effect, which is expected to institutionalize public cultural services. Libraries will provide more free services to the public under the law, including borrowing books, literature reviews, providing spaces for people to read.

The libraries will also offer free lectures, reading activities promotions, training and exhibitions.

Reading makes way to TV shows

The year of 2017 is dubbed as "the first year of the era of cultural TV shows," for quite a number of cultural variety shows have made into the entertainment industry. Among them, reading is one of the chosen themes.

The Reader produced by China Central Television (CCTV) is one of the representative shows in China. It invites celebrities, scholars, artists and ordinary people to read for the public, in the hope of raising their interests in books. Another reading-themed program Letters Alive has also become successful.

The rising of the cultural TV shows are also elected by Amazon China and Xinhua News Agency as one of the most influential cultural phenomena of the year.

The cultural shows, instead of only praised by elder people, have attracted quite a number of the younger generation. Many insiders viewed this as the Chinese people's increasing or awakening demands for high-quality cultural products, as well as the reviving of the traditions.

"The Chinese people have kept the spirit of culture all the time," said Meng Man, scholar and professor of Peking University. "It just needs to be waked up."

TV adaptation boosts sales of books

In the past year, TV adaptations have helped to boost sales of books. Ten days after the anti-corruption TV series In the Name of the People was aired in March, the original novel sold out at least one million copies.

Another novel White Deer Plain authored by Chen Zhongshi, was sent into the Top 10 best sellers in several stores after the TV adaptation was aired in June. The TV series even helped to boost tourism in Shaanxi Province, since many viewers were curious to see the life and scenery depicted in the show.

In 2017, there is obviously an increasing number of stories in relation to books, even though not all of them are pleasing or positive. However, the growing public attention on books is already a symbol of the Chinese people's closer attachment to reading.

With the country's calling for a nation-wide reading campaign, it is not hard to estimate that the Chinese people's reading quantity is to further increase.

Here come the most-asked questions: How many books did you read in the past year? Do you have your reading list ready for the coming new year?

Editor:Cao yu

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