Tuesday, February 02, 2016

Is it appropriate to read in bookstores?

A 10-year-old boy was recently persuaded to leave a bookstore by staff members in Hulun Buir, Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region. Since then, the video showing the incident has gone viral, creating a storm on Chinese social media.

In the video, a staff member said that the boy read books in the store but did not intend to buy any of them and another staff member also claimed that the boy had been reading books while sitting on other books. His behavior appeared to be unacceptable to the bookstore staff.

The mother of the boy seemed to be very angry and intentionally asked the two staff members to say the bookstore's name out loud, which is Xinhua Bookstore, the largest chain bookseller in the country. She also asked the staff how long a buyer should spend selecting and checking out the books they want, so that she could record their explanations and post them online.

Since the video was posted on the Chinese Twitter-like platform, Sina Weibo, it has sparked a long discussion on the proper behavior in bookstores.

"Physical bookstores are more stagnant than ever before. I have seen that many bookstores permit patrons to read, but it doesn't mean that the bookstores are obliged to do that. I think the male staff member is right. A library is for reading. Each institution has its own function, and you can't require a non-philanthropic organization to fill the shortage of some institutions," said @Manianshenglegexiaoqiuqiu.

"It feels like that the mother intentionally posted the video online to threaten them. I really do not want to be obsessed with the fact that many books are wrinkled. To tell the truth, people eager to buy books are not likely to sit there reading for hours, but flip through them to decide which one they want," commented @Jinseyiran.

"Xinhua bookstores in Zhengzhou permit people to read… The bookstore is not only a place of trading, but also a place 'to offer nourishment for the mind'," @Mengmengdabuerjun.

So far, there has been no response from the Xinhua Bookstore.

Over the past few years, online bookstores have been fiercely competing with their physical counterparts. Many physical bookstores have had to close down. Those that survived are trying new business models, like fusing a café into a bookstore or being open 24/7, which is favored by readers.

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