Yang Zhenrong, a farmer in southwest China's Yunnan province, takes his two daughters to the bookstore near his village every weekend. He reads new books on farming, while his daughters are fans of poetry.
Established on World Book Day of 2017, the bookstore in Anning city is the first "nostalgia bookstore" in Yunnan, a project aimed at constructing bookstores with retro-style furniture while promoting rural culture construction.
The bookstore has made reading more accessible to common farmers. Zhang Guizhi, a villager living in the Qinglong sub-district of Anning, said that before the emergence of the new bookstore, the distance of a round trip to a bookstore in the city seat was over 60 km.
"There is 'gold' in the books. The problems encountered in opening a shop can also be found in books," said Zhang. "In the past, there were no bookstores here, and I would only turn over a few pages of a book in a year. Now that we have a bookstore, I should spend my time on such meaningful things."
At the outset, however, few would step into the bookstore or stay long.
To solve the dilemma, the authorities shelved more books about agricultural technology and techniques in the bookstore, in a bid to guide them to find more cash cows with their knowledge.
Now, the bookstore holds more than 4,500 books, with one-third covering agricultural technology and techniques. So far, it has received nearly 30,000 visits. "The increasingly strong reading atmosphere makes the spirit of the countryside better," said Yin Zhengyong, an official of the Qinglong sub-district.
"There are at least 50 books about raising chickens at my house. I now go to the bookstore every weekend to see if there are any new books, my two daughters also love the atmosphere there," said Yang.
Yang started to raise chickens in 2010, but it was in 2019 that his career really took off. "The books told me the importance of vaccinating chickens and castrating hens," he said.
As of February, Yunnan had set up 167 "nostalgia bookstores," with a total area of 35,000 square meters, according to Yang Min, a manager with the Yunnan Xinhua Bookstore Group Co., Ltd.
She said that Yunnan will establish 24 more such bookstores in the future. By looking for folk craftsmen, collecting and displaying old objects or production and living utensils of small ethnic groups, they will reproduce the local historical features based on the bookstores in border towns, relocation sites and other rural areas.