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Harvest reaps rewards of livestream

By Mei Jia | | Updated: 2024-02-29 15:19
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Scenes from livestreamer Dong Yuhui's promotion of literary magazines. [Photo provided to]

On Wednesday, one of the country's top livestream influencers Dong Yuhui, invited two writers and the editor-in-chief of Harvest magazine to his Douyin program, Time With Yuhui.

The enthusiasm that writers Yu Hua and Su Tong brought to the livestream was so heated and continuous that Dong extended the one-hour program to 150 minutes.

By the end of the session, the literary bimonthly had sold 63,000 annual issues, along with 12,000 issues of its quarterly subsidiary dedicated to novels. The sum of magazines sold exceeded 12.4 million yuan ($1.7 million).

The phenomenal nighttime talk show led many to ask the same question: How many people still read, particularly print magazines and books?

Harvest was founded in 1957, and has been boosting contemporary Chinese literature since the 1980s. Yu, who is known for his novel To Live, said the magazine is like the Dow Jones index of the country's literary scene.

Harvest's editor-in-chief Cheng Yongxin said throughout the hard times facing all printed publications, the magazine has never run any advertisements, because in the words of one of its founders, Ba Jin, "readers come to us for literature, not for ads".

"What brought us to this livestream is that things have changed, and we're being challenged," Cheng said. "But I fully believe in the power of literature, and of good writing."

Scenes from livestreamer Dong Yuhui's promotion of literary magazines. [Photo provided to]

Dong remembers that the attention he received as buyers rushed to his livestreaming room can partly be attributed to his past readings of literature. "Literature brings us closer," Dong added.

Roughly a month ago, he also had a hit sitting with Shi Zhanjun, editor-in-chief of People's Literature magazine, and writer Liang Xiaosheng. That livestream attracted 8.95 million visits and reaped more than 100 million "Likes".

The magazine sold 992,000 issues that night.

The success led media critics to see a light in the future of serious writing.

"Nowadays, it's important that literary creations, instilled in every issue of literary magazines, are not only confined to 'a celebration of the selected enclosure'. They need to step out, and greet mass consumers in the way they like and accept. Dong is their preferred choice and a deserving host," Guangming Daily website wrote.

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