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An online success story

Bookworm introduces a growing audience to long-forgotten books, historic figures and the joys of reading through videos on his WeChat channel, Yang Yang reports.

By Yang Yang | China Daily | Updated: 2023-07-15 11:56
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Zhao Jian is an online celebrity, and his short videos cover topics such as books, the story of a bookstore owner and talks with authors.[Photo provided to China Daily]

Zhao Jian, 30, is upset by copycats on short-video platforms, who not only plagiarize his content word for word but also imitate his outfits. As one of the most popular accounts of its type on WeChat Channels, Zhao Jian's Reading Diary is followed by more than 2 million people, and many of his videos have been viewed tens of millions of times.

Growing up next to a training school for traditional Chinese operas, and able to recite large swaths of operatic text, Zhao has been interested in traditional culture, literature and art since he was a child.

Borrowing 400 books a year at university, the bookworm has been promoting reading by establishing a reading club and hosting New Year poetry events for eight consecutive years. These attract not only tens of thousands of readers but also writers such as Yu Hua, Jia Pingwa, Bei Dao and Su Tong.

Now the 30-year-old uses short videos and livestreaming to continue his mission to promote books about traditional Chinese culture and art.

Since graduating from university in 2015, Zhao has been running a 9,000-square-meter bookstore in Nanjing, East China's Jiangsu province, with his friends. However, physical bookshops have been struggling as a result of a boom in online shopping and diverse types of entertainment that easily distract potential book readers. Then the COVID-19 pandemic hit China. The bookstore was losing money, so Zhao had to reduce its area and rent out space to other businesses.

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