The books of Mo Yan, the first Chinese national to win the Nobel Literature Prize, have become best-sellers both home and abroad, giving impetus to the nation's thirst for reading literature.
As news of Mo's award on Thursday night spread, readers swarmed into shops early Friday morning for Mo's books, including the Beijing Books Building and the Wangfujing Branch of Xinhua Bookstore, two major bookstores in downtown Beijing.
"His most popular masterpieces, such as "Red Sorghum" and "Frog" had all sold out," said Ge Fei, deputy general manager of the Wangfujing Branch of Xinhua Bookstore.
The bookstore used to sell, on average, ten books of Mo's a day. On Thursday alone, it sold more than 80 books as readers came to buy them after the news. Publishing houses have no extra copies of Mo's books and are printing more copies.
The Swedish Academy announced in Stockholm on Thursday that Mo would receive the 2012 Nobel Prize in Literature, making him the first Chinese national to win the award. Mo Yan, a pseudonym for Guan Moye, was born in 1955 and grew up in Gaomi in east China's Shandong Province.
"Mo's victory of the Nobel prize is encouragement to the Chinese literature field and an inspiration to readers," said a high middle school teacher surnamed Lv. She loved literature but read little about Mo's books before.
"As a litterateur, Mo's prize will make Chinese readers pay more attention to purely literature books and the hearts and souls of mankind," said Lv, who is in her 40s, at Beijing Books Building.
Reading has become almost a luxury for many young Chinese people, who have been struggling to earn livelihoods in booming cities and do not have enough time to read a book.
In subways or buses in Chinese cities, few passengers are seen reading a book. Many play games on their mobile phones or read popular or commercial books. This is in contrast to what happens in western countries where passengers are seen reading books on subways. Many young Chinese people also like to read electronic books on the Internet.
"The exam-oriented education reduces the reading time of Chinese students a lot. The books they read are mostly for the purpose of gaining higher scores," said a high middle school teacher surnamed Ding in southwestern Sichuan Province.
"Reading should not be regarded just as the means to acquire knowledge and skills. Currently the awareness of reading literature is not as strong as before," said the teacher.
Results of a national reading survey conducted by China Publishing Science Research Institute in 2010 showed the number of books read by each Chinese person annually was 4.5, much lower than 11 in the Republic of Korea, 20 in France and 40 in Japan. Experts said textbooks and training books were much more popular than literature.
"In today's society of hustle and bustle, we should encourage reading to purify our souls instead of only choosing practical books," said Zhao Xiaohong, a young mother in Beijing.
She went to Wangfujing bookstore to buy Mo's books for her son, as her son likes reading printed books. She said her family will try to renew traditional and thoughtful reading of printed books.
Wang Erbo, a professor of literature in Guangxi University of Nationalities in south China, said electric reading has had a deep impact on the traditional way of reading.
"Mo's purely literary books may arouse the awareness of inner souls and push more Chinese people to read books in a deep way, fully exerting the role of literature in the progress of society," Wang told Xinhua.
In an exclusive interview with Xinhua, Mo said because of the various ways people can amuse themselves today a lot of people have little time to read.
"But I believe when you go out for fun and return, perhaps someday you will take a book and experience the pleasure in the traditional way of reading. This delight will make you feel rather comfortable," Mo said.
Publishers have a different view as to the impact of Mo's prize. Chen Liming, president of Beijing Classic & Wise Culture Development Co. LTD, one of Mo's publishers, said the prize will have some effect on people's reading choice and boost the confidence of mainstream writers.
However, publisher Shen Haobo said the status quo of Chinese reading habits will not change dramatically, nor will literature books gain special attention of the public all of a sudden.
The quality of books, including serious literature like Mo's books, will have the final say in the market, he said.