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Capital’s annual book fair draws avid readers

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People attend the Beijing Book Fair at Chaoyang Park in May. The event, which has attracted over 300,000 visitors, has been held annually since 1979. Photo provided to CHINA DAILY

Young people eager to keep turning the pages

Over 2000 years ago, the Roman scholar and philosopher Marcus Tullius Cicero came to the conclusion that “a room without books is like a body without a soul”.

In modern times, bookstores and book fairs play a valuable role in the cultural life of a city.

Beijing, which has a history of over 3,000 years, has a rich cultural heritage, with authorities and the public doing all they can to keep the tradition of reading alive for future generations.

Visitors have attended book fairs in the Chinese capital since the 1950s. A book fair held in Beijing by the Xinhua Bookstore in November 1957 was the first of its kind after the founding of New China in 1949, according to the Beijing Daily.

The 10-day event attracted people from all parts of the city eager to expand their knowledge.

The fair organizer was selling imported books and newly published works. About 20 well-known writers, including Mao Dun and Zang Kejia, attended the event to meet fans and sign books.

In 1979, the Xinhua Bookstore held a second book fair on a much larger scale than that of 1957. The Beijing Daily reported that more than 344,000 books were sold in the first three days of the fair, generating revenues. revenues of 170,000 yuan ($ 26,225).

The fair, which has been well received by the public, has been held every year since.

In the 1990s, the fair attracted not only local residents, but also book lovers from neighboring provinces.

A Beijing Daily article on the fair held in 1992 stated, “A teacher named Li Baozhong from neighboring Hebei Province took a train to Beijing. In less than two hours at the fair, he spent more than 300 yuan to buy books, the equivalent of two months of “salary”.

In 2009, the number of people attending the show fell by 50% in one year to 300,000, largely due to the boom in online shopping and digital reading.

Zhao Zhan, 35, from Beijing, who has many happy memories of attending the book fair, said, “There didn’t seem to be any stopping its decline in popularity, which I felt very sad about. .

“When I was young, the book fair was held in Ditan Park, which has a good natural environment. I loved reading outdoors among the trees and bushes before bringing many books home. . “

Zhao said he used to visit the book fair with his mother. When he grew up he went to the event with his girlfriend.

“When you read, it’s like having a mental dialogue with the authors. It’s even better to attend the fair with your loved ones,” he said.

In 2012 and 2013, the Beijing Book Fair was suspended due to low demand, leaving many fans such as Zhao heartbroken.

“I broke up with my girlfriend in 2013, when the fair was suspended. These two events had no connection, but they were both quite sad for me. Some of my memories were dead,” he said. -he declares.

In 2014, when the event was moved to Chaoyang Park, the latest promotional methods were used to encourage loyal supporters to come back, but also to attract new fans.


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