A new online service allows book lovers in Shanghai to borrow up to 20 books for a month without leaving home.
Chinese payment platform Alipay's online "Credit Public Library" lends books online and provides home delivery for a fee of just 3 to 5 yuan (.44 to .73).
The platform is the result of an agreement between Alipay and various libraries across eastern China. Every user with a credit rating of 600 or higher on Zhima Credit can access the library service without a deposit or membership card, and is also entitled to a free 30-day period in which to borrow books.
More than 1.5 million books are available, covering philosophy, religion, law, economics, culture and other fields, including best-sellers and newly published books.
"Alipay's Credit Public Library will actively explore new models and embrace more local libraries in the system," said Chen Lingling, senior manager of Zhima Credit. "We aim to establish a 100-city book-lending alliance within three years."
In recent years, reading rates of printed books have plummeted in China. Chinese people read an average of just 4.58 printed books a year, while the Japanese read eight books and South Koreans 11, according to the Chinese Academy of Press and Publication.
By contrast, digital readership continues to rise. The survey found that the proportion of Chinese readers using devices like phones and e-readers has been increasing for eight consecutive years, with the average Chinese adult spending a daily average of 74.4 minutes reading digital content on their phone in 2016.