China will escape fast-food literature given enough time, says Chen Chenchen in Global Times
This is not the first time that China has been criticized for leaving the golden age of reading behind. In July, an article by Sharmistha Mohapatra, an Indian expat living in Shanghai, describing the clusters of Chinese passengers she witnessed playing iPad games on a flight from Shanghai to Frankfurt, after which she concluded that the Chinese habit of reading was in decline. This stirred up lots of discussion.
Last week, an Atlantic article titled “Why aren’t Chinese people reading books anymore?” said that “the country’s once-robust trade in serious literature has withered under an increasingly materialistic, results-oriented society,” and that while China boasts of having the largest publishing industry by number of works published, public enthusiasm has vanished.
An April survey by the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, which is also quoted in this Atlantic article, reveals that in 2012, on average a Chinese person reads 4.39 books, spends 15 minutes reading each day, and is willing to spend only $2 on a 200-page book. All these numbers pale before counterparts in the US, France, Japan and South Korea.
But does all these really mean that in China the golden age of reading is forever gone? I’m not that pessimistic.