In 2018, the online book market achieved 5.73 million yuan, increasing 24.8% compared with the previous year. Credit: China Daily.

Virus or no virus, people love reading.

But with the onset of coronavirus and people being largely shut-in, some bookstores are wisely investing more in the online market to explore further sales channels, China Daily reported.

According to Beijing Business Today, Zhongshuge Bookstore, a modern and highly popular place in China in recent years, and traditional chains such as Beijing Xinhua Bookstore, Beijing Book Building and Wangfujing Bookstore have all shifted their main markets from offline to online, promoting sales through livesteaming and limited-time book discounts.

On Feb 4, Zhongshuge Bookstore made its first livesteaming on Taobao, attracting nearly 9,000 people in 4 hours, receiving more than 10,000 interactive messages and 27,000 likes, the report said.

Beijing Xinhua Bookstore and Wangfujing Bookstore all launched online sales promotions since they have been temporarily shut down because of outbreak, the report said.

To make it even sweeter for housebound book readers, a number of books are being offered at different discounts. Online bookstores also set up a display area of books about health knowledge targeting the epidemic, with a general discount of 20% to 30%, the report said.

According to the 2019 China Book Market Report released by IResearch, book retail sales from online channels have seen year-on-year growth. In 2018, the online book market achieved 5.73 million yuan, increasing 24.8% compared with the previous year.

The agency also predicted that online sales will register 70% of the future book market, the report said.

“A variety of online bookstores will bring huge competition to original e-commerce vendors, but in fact they can meet the needs of different readers and stimulate market vitality, serving as one of the supporting forces for the development of their offline physical bookstores,” said Tang Yong, a senior publisher, to Beijing Business Today.

Wei Pengju, head of the National Center of Cultural Innovational Research at the Central University of Finance and Economics, noted that it may take a long time for the business of offline bookstores to recover after the outbreak.

“When the epidemic disappears, offline entities still have to go through a period during which consumers gradually overcome their psychological burden — the fear of going to crowded places — and regain social confidence. Therefore, we will still need the online platforms as a supplement,” he said.

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