Time, money drawing more readers to digital devices

By Xinhua ( China Daily ) Updated: 2014-05-01 11:53:58

Wang Siyuan's longtime reading habit was shaken up when China gained access to the Internet 20 years ago.

"As an English major in college, I found a lot more to read from the Internet in the late 1990s, though I prefer to read on paper," Wang said.

Now the 39-year-old Wang works as a financial consultant during the day, but at night he has another life as a Web writer.

His latest martial arts fantasy novel, A Fox Goddess, received more than 49,000 hits online in just two months. His avid online followers are always waiting for the best installment ever, Wang said.

"I need to borrow ideas from loads of stories, so I often indulge myself in a bookstore on weekends. But for other limited periods of time, I have to read on the Internet and on portable devices," Wang said.

Wang is among the growing number of Chinese who are doing most of their reading on screens, a trend that has been driven by a lack of time for reading and the rising cost of printed books.

According to a newly released report by China's 11th National Reading Survey, 50 percent of readers chose to read online or on devices in 2013. The number is almost double that of 2008. More than 50 percent of readers said a lack of time was the most prominent factor that led them to go digital, the survey said.

"The quick pace of modern life has deprived people of reading paperback books according to the study. People have to read in fragmented time," said Guo Meng, a psychology professor with Beijing's Capital Normal University.

For thousands of commuters in Beijing, reading on tablets just fills the blanks on the subway.

"I've got to 'steal' time to read on my Kindle on the train," said Zhao Jing, a woman in her 20s who spends at least an hour on the train on her way to the office.

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