Whether private bookstores can survive the increasingly severe competition in the market, when more than 10,000 private bookstores have collapsed in the past four years, is becoming a pressing issue for those that remain.
The most serious threat to private bookstores is from their online counterparts, which can offer lower prices thanks to their reduced overheads.
Some readers like to peruse books in bookstores and then buy the books they like online at a price that might be half or less the price charged by the bookstore.
In addition, ever-rising rents have eaten into the profits of private bookstores, reducing many of them to desperation.
Facing the collapse of one private bookstore after another, the question many readers are asking is whether the State should extend a helping hand to private bookstores and if so how.
It is unrealistic for governments at all levels to offer them financial aid. Even if the governments wanted to, it would be impossible for them to assist bookstores financially.
However, it is possible for the government to relieve the burden on private bookstores by given them preferential policies in such areas as taxes.
It is also possible for the government to offer favorable policies when it comes to the rent and location for private bookstores, which will also help them survive the increasingly severe competition.
Maybe the government could also regulate market competition rules by setting a limit on the level of discount offered by online bookstores, so non-online bookstores will have enough room to survive.
If the government can do all these, they will create a relatively fair environment so that private bookstores can compete not only with online retailers but also with the country's largest State-owned bookstore Xinhua.
Xinhua Bookstore, which is affiliated to the National Publishing Group (NPG), boasts a national sales network of about 20,000 outlets from townships to provincial capitals.
The aforementioned preferential policies will place private bookstores on a relatively even footing with Xinhua Bookstore, and the good old days they enjoyed in the early 1990s, when there was no competition from online bookstores, testifies to their capability to compete with Xinhua Bookstore.
However, even with the introduction of such preferential policies, non-online bookstores will still have to find ways to diversify and make themselves more attractive to book buyers.
And even with such policies, quite a number of bookstores will likely collapse as their online counterparts do have competitive advantages.
That is the reality both readers and bookstore owners have to face.
Some non-online bookstores have opened their own online bookstores to try and compete, but they must find new ways to entice people through the door if they are to survive as physical entities.