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Borrow a book and buy it later

2017-09-13 09:54:22 CGTN

Bookstores are using a new approach to get people to read, and buy their books.

Nine bookstores recently joined a book-sharing program in Hefei, capital of east China's Anhui Province. After a trial operation lasting over a month and a half, the program brought a total of 10 outlets together.

With a mobile phone app and a deposit of 99 yuan (15 US dollars), a reader can borrow up to two books from any of the 10 stores and keep them for up to 10 days, free of charge.

"Readers just need to scan the QR code on the back of each book to get everything done," said Zhu Fei, a manager responsible for the book-sharing program at Anhui Xinhua Media, a State-owned company that runs the bookstores. Sanxiaokou Xinhua Bookstore, the first bookstore in China that offers such innovation, launched the program on July 16, 2016.

"Since then, more than 20,000 people have borrowed over 100,000 books via the app," said Huang Zhen, an executive from Anhui Xinhua Media.

But not everyone wants to give the borrowed books back. A survey revealed 601 app users conducted by the company in late July found that more than 90% of the readers said they may want to keep some of the borrowed books permanently, but they did not want to visit the store again to complete the purchase, Zhu said.

Therefore, when those nine stores joined in August, the ability to purchase the borrowed books was made available on the app.

"Borrowing also helps to bring down the risk of paying for a book you don't like," Zhu said.

In an earlier interview with reporters, Bi Shengsi, former deputy director of Sanxiaokou Bookstore, said they didn't rely heavily on selling books for profit.

"Selling cultural and creative products, like souvenirs, is more profitable," Bi said.

Book sharing expanded on August 26 to 120 franchised convenience stores in Shijiazhuang, Hebei Province. Media reports indicate that each of the stores named 365-24, meaning the stores are open 24 hours all year round, has made about 300 books available for customers.

Each book is charged 1 yuan per day. Both borrowing and returns can be handled at any of the 120 franchise stores via WeChat app, according to a recent report in Hebei Daily. Wechat app is said to be available in more cities in Hebei soon.

Zhu, the Anhui Xinhua Media manager, said businesses can contribute more to promoting reading among citizens.

"Going to libraries is inconvenient nowadays, compared with visiting stores; and reading is getting more popular in China," Zhu said.

"Library books are often old and not popular, while the situation in bookstores is totally different," he said.

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