A survey on reading habits shows that Chinese adults read nearly eight books on average last year and children and teens under 17 read nearly nine, according to a survey conducted and released by Chinese Academy of Press and Publication on Wednesday in Beijing.
The survey found those ages 14 to 17 read the most during the year: 11.57 books on average. The number excludes textbooks.
"Compared with that of 2016, the growth was stable. We see it as a result of the government's effort to promote reading," said Xu Shengguo, a member of the academy's research team. "It also shows people choose different platforms to read: books in print; e-books on computers and smartphones; and audiobooks."
To foster the reading habits is once again a hot topic in the country, with Monday being World Book and Copyright Day.
Xu said that although the number of books read by Chinese continues to rise, it is still surpassed by the Japanese with 11 and South Koreans with nine. French readers took in eight books and those in the US read seven.
He attributed the difference to the country's large population and the uneven development in urban and rural areas and western and eastern parts of the country.
The annual survey, the 15th since 1999, covered 18,666 samples collected from 29 provincial-level administrations in the country. It found that 67.5 percent of urban residents had the habit of reading books in 2017, while 49.3 percent of rural residents did so.
The survey found that digital reading has been growing in the country, with 73 percent of adults reading online and with mobile gadgets, up from 68.2 percent in 2016. Adult Chinese spent 80.43 minutes a day using smartphones in 2017, over six minutes more than in 2016. About 27 minutes of that use were spent on WeChat.
Audiobooks were a new point of growth in terms of broader sense of reading habit, with 22.8 percent of adult Chinese listening to audiobooks in 2017, up 5.8 percentage points compared with 2016.
Most users chose mobile apps for audiobooks and some chose radio and audio content on WeChat.
Up to 41.2 percent of adult Chinese respondents chose audiobooks for stories. About 44 percent of those younger than 17 use them for English learning. Younger children also used the audio content to learn traditional Chinese poems and essays.
Among printed books, Chinese readers loved literature most, followed by life, history and psychology. As to the realm of digital reading, urban love stories were the most popular, followed by history/military, literary classics and fantasy.
About 70 percent of Chinese families with children younger than 8 had the habit of reading with the kids. On average, they spent 23.69 minutes a day reading together.
Xu said the purpose of the survey is to serve readers better and help provide better public services for readers. The academy for the first time released the national reading index of 2017 and hoped to create a standard system of references.
The national reading index system contains a personal reading index, 71.65 in 2017, and a public service index, 64.9 in 2017.
"It's something close to the stock market index, used to indicate the comprehensive level of reading quality, and reading experience," Xu said.