A recent story from the South China Morning Post about digital reading habits on the mainland:
A survey by the Chinese Institute of Publishing Science found that nearly a quarter of the more than 20,000 people it surveyed, aged between 18 and 70, now read primarily in digital formats… Half of those aged under 29 read digital content…. 91 per cent of readers said they would not buy printed books if they could read them in digital form.
It’s not so much that there’s a wave of Kindles and iPads sweeping the country, or that PCs are everywhere; a lot of this is from people reading on cellphones. There are also local e-readers on the market – one company sold 270,000 units last year and expects to sell two million this year.
That’s not to say print media is dying in China – some publications are doing spectacularly well, both in terms of circulation and advertising.
Still, those statistics on digital reading are pretty impressive, and point to the need to think about content that’s customized to work well on cellphones – as well as in print, online and all the other channels. It isn’t necessarily just about having short updates or location-specific updates on mobile, although those are obvious directions to go down; if people can read books on cellphones, they’re clearly comfortable with a more immersive experience as well.