Do Chinese people hate reading?

This morning I was browsing /r/books and came across a blog article written August 17th entitled “Materialism is destroying China’s interest in reading books.”

If you didn’t already know, I’ve been living in Shanghai for the past year and (I hope) have come to understand something of the culture. I’ll confess that I haven’t paid too much attention to the popularity of books here, though, so the article was pretty interesting.

According to the blog article, China possesses the world’s largest publishing industry, with 8.1 billion books printed in 2012.  But the number of books read per capita is shockingly low compared to their neighbors. The average Chinese person reads 4.39 books per year, the average Japanese reads 8.4, and the average Korean reads 11. Click here to read the entire article.

But I was heartened this weekend when I attended the 10th-annual Shanghai International Book Fair. My roommates and I had to fight to see the bookshelves and the queues to get in were impressive. 95% of the books were in Chinese, of course, but there was a decent selection of used paperbacks, modern novels, and classics in English.

I took a few photos just for you guys:


I needed one of my taller roommates to take this photo because I couldn’t see above everyone >.<

CIMG0101The stairways were crowded with people reading their newly-bought books, eating, or just taking a break.


One of the main halls.

CIMG0115The line ends on the right in the foreground, curves to the left at the far end of the picture, and continues behind me (the photographer) for about 50 meters. This was only one of two entrances.


My roommate and some freaky…things.

CIMG0111And some cosplay. Because China.

I look forward to attending the event again in 2014, though hopefully they’ll cater more to expats, considering it’s supposedly an “international” book fair…


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