BEIJING, July 18 (Xinhua) -- Beijing municipal government will hand out 50 million yuan (7.46 million U.S. dollars) in subsidies every year to help brick-and-mortar bookstores survive in downtown areas.
The government's information office said on Tuesday that from 2018, the yearly budget will be appropriated to support 150 brick-and-mortar bookstores.
According to the subsidy plan, each of the 16 districts in Beijing should have a large bookstore by 2020, when there should be 200 bookstores in the city's bustling commercial streets, densely-populated residential areas, and near key scenic sites.
To improve the city's cultural services, the municipal government has encouraged bookstores to open 24 hours and combine book sales with cultural activities such as book clubs and lectures in cooperation with public libraries.
Zhang Su, deputy director of the municipal administration of press publication, radio, film, and television, said having bookstores within reach in downtown areas can encourage public reading. The government also encourages bookstores to play the role of public libraries.
Xinhua Bookstore in Wangfujing, Beijing's famous shopping street, has cooperated with a public library in Dongcheng District to allow citizens to borrow books from the bookstore for free. The costs will be covered by the public library.
Traditional bookstores are losing out to digital reading and online shopping. Most are having difficulties due to the impact of online stores that offer big discounts and e-books that are increasingly available at very low prices.
According to the office, in addition to the subsidies, the government will also refund investment in building bookstores from the government's budget for urban infrastructure construction, and prioritize brick-and-mortar bookstores in making government purchases and holding government-sponsored cultural activities.