Tag Archives: China

The new library in Tianjin, China is simply amazing

2017-11-18

Public buildings, and in our era, especially libraries often have a significant role in positioning a community or an entire nation to the world. Looking at the images of the recently opened (October 2017) library in the city of Tianjin in China, the wow-effect is instant. The new library is simply something you can’t take your eyes off of.

Tianjin Binhai library designed by Dutch architects MVRDV
Tianjin is a metropolis on the coast about 100 km from Beijing. Dutch architect firm MVRDV designed the amazing library in cooperation with Tianjin Urban Planning and Design Institute (TUPDI). The new library has 1.2 million books on its shelves, ready to be loaned. The size of the building is 33,700 m2.

The architects of MVRDV describe the building as a cultural centre with a spherical auditorium. The bookcases that cascade from floor to ceiling make it an educational centre, and also social space.

The five-level building also has educational facilities along the edges of the interior and accessible through the main atrium space. Subterranean service spaces, book storage, and a large archive are working spaces for the employees. Reading areas for children and the elderly, and the auditorium are on the ground floor. The first and second floors consist primarily of reading rooms, books and lounge areas. Upper floors have meeting rooms, offices, computer and audio rooms and two rooftop patios.

The building project was completed in three years, which can be regarded as some kind of miracle for such a complex building. The fast construction schedule came with some sacrifices, though. For instance, the bookshelves located high up in the library don’t have books, but plates that look like books. The reason for this is that there wasn’t time to build public access to the bookshelves at the top.

View the video of the library filmed by New China TV:

Looking at the images of the Tianjin Binhai library also makes one think. What is the meaning of the new library? Perhaps one of its missions is to tell us that today, China is one of the most powerful nations in the world that has the wealth and the will to show that the society values education, culture and books.

The following photos by MVRDV.

Tianjin Binhai library in China, designed by MVRDV

Tianjin Binhai library in China, designed by MVRDV

Tianjin Binhai library in China, designed by MVRDV

Tianjin Binhai library in China, designed by MVRDV

Investors are betting big time on an ebook startup in China

2017-11-11

Tencent is a large social media and gaming enterprise in China, but the company has also been developing an online book publishing business. The ebook arm of the enterprise grew so rapidly that Tencent decided to detach it from the mother ship by issuing an IPO (Initial Public Offering) at Hong Kong Stock Exchange on November 8, 2017. Investors couldn’t get enough of shares, raising the price so high that it became the largest technology related IPO in Hong Kong since Alibaba.com was listed in 2007.

Chinese book cover images
The new startup is simply called China Literature, but the development of its digital publishing business was not simple.

China Literature already has a mind-boggling catalog of 9.6 million works from 6.4 million authors. Sure, China is a vast market, the largest in the world, but still, the numbers are incomprehensible. Here is how it is possible.

The company has developed two popular applications: QQ Reading and Qudian. Readers can use these apps to download ebooks, see what their friends are reading, rate and review titles, and receive recommendations from others.

In addition to purchasing titles from established publishing houses, readers who have written a book can self-publish their works directly to China Literature’s ebook store.

China Literature’s apps have proven to be the drivers for reader engagement. The applications let readers interact with writers and it helps writers to learn about their audience. For example, micropayments are used for allowing readers to download sections from ebooks. That is one of the features of the QQ Reading app.

Opening chapters of books are free, but after the first chapter readers have to pay 5 yuan ($0.75) per 1,000 characters. China Literature also has a subscription service that gives customers full access to select titles. The subscription fee is between 10 yuan and 18 yuan per month ($1.51 and $2.71).

New developments include readnovel.com that promises “literary works concerning campus life and contemporary romance”, and possibly TV shows and movies as well.

Via Quartz.

China is the largest book market in the world: together with USA, more than half of all titles published

2017-08-20

China has rapidly become the largest market for books in the world. Of all the 1.6 million new book titles published in 2015, 28% of them were published in China. The second largest market, the U.S., published 20% of new titles launched to the global markets in 2015.

The vast population of China, more than one billion, explains part of the success of books in the country, but it is not the whole story. India’s population is roughly at the same level as China’s population, but India is nowhere near China when the number of published books are considered.

China has very quickly developed from a primarily farming society into an industrial society that is rapidly turning into a new technology powerhouse. That requires masses of well educated engineers, managers, and marketers. Books are a great way to learn, and of course, be entertained.

Book statistics have been published by the International Publishers Association (IPA). The numbers come from publishers, and don’t include self-published titles.

Below a graph by Quartz that shows the number of new book titles published in each in 2015:

book titles published by country. Source IPA, graph Quartz
The relative importance of books, or how the society values books, in each society can be studied by dividing the number of citizens by the number of new titles. Now, the story is completely different. European countries rise on top. Top 10 of published titles per million inhabitants is all European countries, followed by the U.S.

UK, France, and Spain export plenty of books to other countries where English, French or Spanish is spoken, but why are Scandinavian countries so high in the top 10? Every Scandinavian country has its own language, making each market small. Book industry is a subsidized business in these countries. Authors may get allowances, translators may receive grants, and value added taxes for books are lower than for other products.

books published per million inhabitants by country, source IPA.

Chinese Have Quickly Adopted Ebooks on Mobile Devices

2015-05-07

Those were the days when people in China had to go out on the streets to read the news that were posted on walls. Today, more Chinese connect to Internet services than in any other country. Chinese have also widely adopted large screen smartphones. Perhaps one thing leads to another, but in any case, reading ebooks is now more popular than reading paper books in China.

chenzen, china boookstore by robert scoble
A bookstore in Chenzen, China by Robert Scoble on Flickr.

The Chinese government news site reported on a study that was conducted by the Chinese Academy of Press and Publication in September 2014. The organization surveyed 35 000 adults across China about their reading habits. The highlights of the survey results are:

– 58.1% of Chinese adults read digital books in 2014, and 58% read print books.
– Ebooks were up 8%, but reading paper books grew only 0.2%.
– 51.8% read on mobile phones, while 49.4% used a computer for reading.
– Only 5.3% used an e-reader, and 9.9% a tablet.
– Reading online took about 55 minutes each day on average, whereas printed books got citizens’ attention for 19 minutes and newspapers for 19 minutes as well.
– 67.6% of Chinese between 18 and 39 years had adopted digital reading habits.

The numbers are impressive for ebooks. China may be the first market where reading ebooks became more popular than reading paper books. Sales of ebooks in China compared with the sales of printed books is another matter. The sales of digital goods, such as music and movies lags behind the sales of respective physical goods, and books are no exception during the next few years.