Located in Beijing's 798 Art District, Spectator Books is a discount bookstore that pans for gold in stock books to bring old books back to the store, and Spectator Books has found a way to deal with the price challenge. Wu Min, the manager of Bystander Books, said: "After many good books fade out of the public's view, there are many stocks and large discounts, which allows bookstores to give full play to the advantages of product selection and sell them at cash settlements and discounts to ensure the rapid update of bookstores' varieties and smooth cash flow." ”

Yonghe Bookstore opened on December 2019, 12, more than a month later, the epidemic came, and more than three years later, the bookstore is still there. "The bookstore has been clearly positioned from the beginning, it is a signature theme bookstore, which is the first in China." Peng Mingbang, founder of Yonghe Bookcourt, said that this theme determines that bookstores should do a large number of offline book sharing meetings and new book launches, bringing writers to the bookstore site, "We have done more than 19 offline activities in three years."

In March this year, the Publicity Department of the Beijing Municipal Party Committee organized an interview group of "Spring for Physical Bookstores" to visit bookstores in Miyun, Shunyi, Chaoyang, Haidian, Dongcheng and Xicheng in Beijing to investigate the current situation of physical bookstores.

In recent years, the share of physical bookstores in the market share of book sales has been declining. According to the "2022 Annual Book Market Data Report" released by CICC Yiyun Technology Co., Ltd., in the past two years, short video e-commerce code yang (the pricing of a book or the total price of a batch of books, its currency amount is commonly known as "code yang" - reporter's note) increased by 42.73% year-on-year, and physical retail increased by 14.16% year-on-year; In 2022, traditional e-commerce accounted for 61%, short video e-commerce accounted for 18%, and physical retail accounted for 9% in the book market.

At the same time, there has been a wave of new concept bookstore openings. Xu Shengguo, director of the Publishing Institute of the China Academy of Press and Publication, believes that this is a direct reflection of the transformation of physical bookstores, "these measures meet people's demand for new ways of cultural life and new experiences of spiritual life, and realize the dislocation of competition with online platforms."

The provision of cultural reading products remains fundamental to brick-and-mortar bookstores

Yonghe Bookcourt's book sales method is very special, although it is offline, but generally not readers to buy in stores, but mainly based on community marketing, readers first book online, and then the bookstore asks the writer to sign and sell. "We are all full-price, not discounted, and the average monthly sales are more than 10,<> (yuan)." Peng Mingbang believes that for a physical bookstore to survive, on the one hand, it must be different from online bookstores, not fight a "price war", and give readers a reason to buy books at full price; On the other hand, it should be different from other offline bookstores and give readers a reason to buy books.

What makes Peng Mingbang happy is that the source of income that many physical bookstores, such as Coffee Cultural and Creative Industries, rely on is now almost negligible in Yonghe Shuting, and this bookstore has realized its "original intention" of surviving by "selling books", and "the income brought by the sale of signed books accounts for more than 95%".

Coincidentally, in 2022, the Spectator Book Club upgraded its reading space and removed the drink area. "We want to focus on the selection and sales of books that we are good at." Wu Min said that due to discounts, bookstores are selling more and more books, and catering accounts for only 10% of revenue, and "the removal of catering will help improve the unit efficiency (sales per unit area of the store - reporter's note)." The renovated bookstore attracted more readers, and tens of thousands of visitors even visited during the Spring Festival this year.

If you browse the Internet celebrity check-in places everywhere, there is a bookstore that is likely to be listed, and it is PAGEONE. Founded in 1983, PAGEONE is not only a book store, but also an open and diverse cultural space. Chen Peng, general manager of PAGEONE Bookstore, said that the overall design of the store will follow the principle of "harmony but difference", and on the basis of continuing the existing texture of the area, it will be organically integrated with the commercial atmosphere of the bookstore to create a cultural and commercial complex with humanistic temperature.

Chen Peng introduced that the revenue of bookstores is relatively diversified, mainly from in-store income such as books, catering, cultural and creative activities, cultural activities and space leasing; At the same time, external brand output, including reading space construction, product selection services, supply chain services, etc., are all important revenue sectors. Among them, the sector related to book and content production is still the main business, accounting for more than 50%. "PAGEONE IS DOING WELL AT THE MOMENT." He revealed that from the sales data in the first quarter, it has recovered to 2019%-80% in 90.

In Xu Shengguo's view, the decline of the book sales function of physical bookstores is inevitable, and the core direction of the future should be to sell services, sell experiences, sell scenes, and sell space. However, he also believes that the transformation that loses its own characteristics and subjectivity is easy to fall into the situation of "short-lived" or "eastern effectiveness", abandoning the foundation of providing cultural reading products and services, and physical bookstores will not have a future.

"Online bookstores help people save time and money, and one of the functions of physical space is to help people 'waste' the money and time saved on something better." Talking about the future direction of physical bookstores, Xu Shengguo believes that the focus is to find the intersection of public demand and bookstore services, and provide services that cannot be replaced by online scenes. Metaverse, VR, immersive script kill... These can "arm" physical bookstores and promote the transformation of bookstores into high-end cultural and knowledge experiences such as selling authentic reading.

Readers are the most valuable "asset" of a bookstore

Every time she goes to a new city, Wang Di, a post-90s girl, will "find a bookstore" as soon as possible. Order a drink in the store, find an open book, and sit back and enjoy reading. Wang Di hopes that the physical bookstore can provide readers with a relatively quiet reading environment, and preferably some members-only activities. In the past, she often went to the Sisyphus bookstores in Guangzhou and Wuhan, and also got a stored value card, which she had spent several thousand yuan. Compared with online, Wang Di prefers to go to physical bookstores to buy books. She said that she is "someone who wants to read a book and immediately wants to see it", and that a physical bookstore allows her to have a more direct understanding and judgment of the quality of the book.

Unlike many readers who come to the bookstore for scene consumption and experience consumption, the main purpose of book lover Li Peng visiting the bookstore is to choose books, hoping to buy "books that he did not notice in the past". But he is actually more accustomed to online shopping - quickly select books and place orders after browsing online book recommendations, "saving time and effort".

"A person's energy is limited, and if the knowledge is very 'knowledgeable', it is inevitable that it is not 'deep', isn't the same reason for bookstores?" Li Peng believes that a bookstore has a limited area and limited book capacity, and if it covers books in various categories, the depth of a single category will be affected. He hopes that brick-and-mortar bookstores will be more professional, and "each store should focus on 2-3 categories of books."

Communication with readers has always been the focus of physical bookstores. What readers need, what opinions and suggestions readers have, has also become a compulsory course for many physical bookstores.

On April 4, World Book Day, a special reader with a tripod and camera arrived. He once met Wu Min because he bought photos from an exhibition and wanted to record images for the bookstore on this special day. Half a month later, Wu Min received the photo and sent a circle of friends to express his gratitude to the reader.

Lama Library's communication with its readers is not just during events, but every day. "Readers often come to the store to communicate with us face-to-face, and we will try to meet the needs of readers." Peng Mingbang said.

"For PAGEONE, readers are the most valuable and cherished 'asset'. In addition to daily face-to-face contact in stores, we will maintain close communication with readers through the membership system, community, and self-media accounts every day. From product selection, in-store display, and even the research and development of drinks in the coffee area, readers will listen to reasonable feedback. Chen Peng said that PAGEONE has also been looking for a balance between the commercial attributes of bookstores and social welfare attributes, between unique brand positioning and cultural trends of young people.

Not only financial support, but also confidence in the industry

At the symposium "Spring of Physical Bookstores", Zhan Wuliang, Deputy Director of the Printing and Distribution Department of the Propaganda Department of the Beijing Municipal Party Committee, said that Beijing's support policy for physical bookstores has been continuously implemented for many years and is still in the process of continuous exploration. The general direction is to support the operators of real bookstores and spend the money on the development of physical bookstores. Since 2016, Beijing's support for physical bookstores has become more and more intense, in addition to direct financial support, more support for Beijing's policy environment, so that good policies can really boost industry confidence and warm industry practitioners.

Beijing Municipal Government, Chaoyang District Government and bookstore are located at 751D· Park Fashion Design Plaza has repeatedly supported the bystander book club through rent reduction, rent subsidy, upgrading and renovation subsidy, and model bookstore policy incentives. Wu Min believes that these powerful measures have shown everyone the government's determination to increase investment in cultural undertakings, and have given bookstore operators a reassurance, "These funds in place have largely alleviated the pressure on us by operating costs, and also encouraged us to devote ourselves to the promotion of public reading with more enthusiasm."

PAGEONE receives financial subsidies from the Publicity Department of the Beijing Municipal Party Committee, the Publicity Department of the District Party Committee where each store is located and the Cultural and Tourism Bureau every year. "This kind of subsidy is not only the most direct financial support for our physical bookstores, but also guides the physical bookstores to pay more attention to qualitative development through this support, and can also guide the public to pay attention to spiritual and cultural life, continuously cultivate the public's higher cultural needs and pursuits, and further promote cultural consumption." Chen Peng said that this will not only allow bookstores to "live longer", but also make bookstores constantly think about how to "live better".

Peng Mingbang said: "The government has support and subsidies for Lama Library, although it cannot solve all the problems, but it has played a great role in alleviating the lack of cash flow, and has created a good social environment, and spiritually gave us a sense of stability and steadiness, so that we have more confidence to open this bookstore." ”

Xu Shengguo introduced that in recent years, the state has provided a series of policy support and practical assistance for the physical bookstore industry, such as financial subsidies, providing venues for physical bookstores at lower prices or even free of charge, and purchasing public cultural services of physical bookstores, etc., "the total amount of various subsidies provided by the country for physical bookstores can reach billions of yuan every year."

On April 4 this year, the General Office of the Central Propaganda Department and the General Office of the Ministry of Culture and Tourism issued the Notice on Promoting the Participation of Physical Bookstores in Public Cultural Services, which clearly encourages physical bookstores to participate in the construction of public cultural service networks, integrate and develop with public cultural institutions, and create a reading brand with wide influence for the whole people.

Xu Shengguo introduced that in order to support and guide the transformation and upgrading of physical bookstores, local governments have also invited experts to conduct relevant training and provided special funds for physical bookstores, including special funds for bookstore renovation, special funds for bookstore technology upgrading, and special funds for physical bookstore transformation research projects.

China Youth Daily / China Youth Network Reporter Jiang Xiaobin Trainee Reporter Li Danping Intern Zhou Ji Source: China Youth Daily