Pinduoduo is giving out 50 million yuan ($7.7 million) to encourage book purchases on the e-commerce platform as part of its “Duo Duo Reading Month” campaign to promote reading.
The company began donating funds on April 15, which will be used to lower prices for classic titles and best-selling books including “The Records of the Grand Historian” by Sima Qian and “Stray Birds” by Rabindranath Tagore. Thousands of titles will be available through the promotion, with prices as low as 2.5 yuan per book.
More than 400 million people bought books through Pinduoduo last year, with purchases from rural areas increasing by more than 180% year-on-year. The Covid-19 pandemic has further accelerated the shift to online book sales, as physical bookstores were closed during the lockdown periods and homebound consumers increasingly sought new reading material.
Since 2014, the promotion of universal reading has been listed as a priority in the annual work report presented by the central government.
“In the past year, the book industry e-commerce penetration rate has been close to 60%, but there are still a large number of emerging reading groups whose demand has not been fully met,” said a Pinduoduo spokesperson in charge of the campaign.
The program does not set any threshold for consumers to participate, but directly subsidizes book purchases to allow more people to enjoy reading, the spokesperson said.
Pinduoduo launched the “Duo Duo Reading Month” campaign on March 31. The e-commerce giant invited well-known writers and celebrities to join livestreaming sessions to recommend books and cooperated with local governments and media to donate books to schools in remote areas.
The campaign has so far introduced more than 2,700 publishers and book vendors to Pinduoduo’s platform, helping them access a wider audience. One book vendor, bookuu.com, saw its sales on Pinduoduo rise seven-fold in 2020, driven mainly by users in lower-tier cities and rural areas.
To take efforts to the next step, Pinduoduo will work with major publishers to constantly update the subsidized titles and coordinate logistics to provide readers with quality service during the campaign period.
Also on April 15, Pinduoduo, together with the Shanghai Library Industry Association and Shanghai Book and Magazine Distribution Industry Association, became among the first 10 founding members of the Shanghai National Reading Alliance.
“We will work together with all parties to promote book consumption and knowledge inclusion and help bridge the urban-rural reading gap,” said the Pinduoduo spokesperson.