A survey of reading habits shows adult Chinese read 7.78 books a year on average, and children and teenagers under 17 read 8.81 books, according to survey results released on Wednesday in Beijing.
This year's survey, the 15th edition, was conducted and released by Chinese Academy of Press and Publication starting in 1999. The focus was on the year 2017.
"Compared with 2016, growth was stable," said Xu Shengguo, a member of the academy's research team. "We see it as a result of government efforts to promote reading. It also shows the options for reading platforms are varied. In addition to books in print, there are e-books on computers and smartphones and audio books."
Fostering reading habits is a hot topic in the country, as World Book and Copyright Day falls on next Monday.
Xu said although the number is rising steadily, the average of books Chinese people read are outnumbered by Japan with 11, South Korea with 9, France with 8 and the United States with 7.
He attributed that to the country's big population, the uneven development between urban and rural areas well as the western and eastern parts of the country.
The survey covered 18,666 samples collected from 29 provincial-level administrations in the country. After certain sociological and statistical calculations by computer, it can accurately reflect the whole population.
It found 67.5 percent of urban residents had a habit of reading books in 2017, while 49.3 rural residents did.
In recent years, digital reading has grown in the country.
73 percent of adult Chinese read digitally, including online, mobile, digital readers and smart pads, compared to 68.2 percent in 2016.
When it comes to favorite categories of books, Chinese love literature most, followed by lifestyle, history and psychology. As for digital reading, urban love stories are the most popular, followed by history/military, literature classics and fantasy.
Xu said the purpose of the survey is to serve readers better and provide better public services for readers.
So the same way provincial and municipal governments offer statistics for the local reading index, the academy released the national reading index of 2017 for the first time, hoping to create a standard system of references.
The national reading index system contains a personal reading index and a public service index.
Other interesting points from the survey:
On average, about one in 10 adult Chinese reads more than 10 books in print in 2017, and about one of 20 reads more than 10 digital books.
12 percent of Chinese read books for more than one hour a day, on average.
Adult Chinese spent 80.43 minutes a day on their smartphones in 2017, a more than six-minute increase from 2016.
During this period of time, an average of 27 minutes is spent on WeChat.
Audiobooks were a new point of growth, in terms of gaining a broader sense of reading habits. 22.8 percent of adult Chinese listened to audio books regularly in 2017, an increase of 5.8 percent compared to 2016.
84.8 percent of children and teenagers under 17 had reading habits in 2017. Among this group, 90.4 percent of teenagers aged from 14 to 17 increased their reading.
It was people from the age group of 14 to 17 years who read the highest number of books in the year: 11.57 on average, excluding textbooks.
71.3 percent of Chinese families with children under eight years old had a habit of reading for or together with the kids. On average, they spent 23.69 minutes a day reading.
Parents of children in this age group took them to bookstores more than three times a year.