Calendars make a comeback in China after getting a makeover

Updated 2017-01-22 17:20:11 CGTN
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The notion of paper calendars usually trigger memories of tearing off pages as days went by, nostalgia to when life was simpler and less device-dependent, and probably a sudden scare that times are rolling fast and years are adding up.

It is widely agreed upon that calendars are has-beens of an era when phones were more of a luxury than a necessity. However, in China these registers are getting a new lease of life – and a facelift.

As calendar editor Feng Jun puts it, "if enthusiasm for wall calendars in 1980s represents the first wave of the booming calendar publishing industry in China, the present is the second round."

Statistics show that paper themed-calendars, or nicely-designed calendar books to be specific, are becoming popular among young people in China, even though they are generally more expensive than the run-of-the-mill ones.

On the latest chart of the five bestselling items on the culture section of Dangdang.com, one of China's largest online bookstores, calendar books took up three places last week.

Eleven thousand copies of The Palace Museum Calendar 2017 were sold on China's largest e-commerce website, Taobao.com, just ahead of the new year.

Each calendar stood at 66 yuan (roughly 10 US dollars), meanwhile, a plain regular one is usually priced at 15 yuan (2 US dollars).

The sales of the 2015 edition totaled 220,000 copies.

First published in 1933, the Palace Museum Calendar was once the most popular social gift, before production was halted during the Japanese invasion.

The calendar was back in the market in 2010 to much cheer from the Chinese as it introduced some of the finest cultural relics as content.

Wen Ying, who studied art history in school, is one of those who welcomed the republishing of the calendar, collecting eight so far.

"The price of the collection ranges from 5,000 yuan (725 US dollars) to 15,000 yuan (2,170 US dollars) online. Of course I am not going to sell them, but I am glad that I have all of them. It is hard to say how practical they are because they are simply too beautiful to write on or to be torn off. They just remind me of what I love in my busy life," Wen said.

Jiang Aijun, manager of Xiaofeng Bookstore in Hangzhou, east China's Zhejiang Province, said there are hundreds of commercial themed-calendars released in 2016, much more than a year earlier.

"Sales have grown by about 50 percent this year. People like calendars with poems, famous quotes, and literature. Calendars with knowledge about health or law that target certain readers also sell pretty well." Jiang added.

In China's long history, almanac calendars contained day-to-day dos and don'ts. However, as popular tastes evolved, so did the contents of calendars, which now offer useful hints and wisdom about life, such as "not to brag" or "remember to have a nice day."

Reinventing calendars has been a crucial step to make them more relevant for people, hence addressing the trends of certain demographics became essential. Content has been diversified to satisfy a variety of tastes, with themes ranging from cute dogs to easy-to-make recipes making a comeback on apartment walls and office desks.

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