THE publishing industry, left out of the economic boom that has swept China in the past decade, has been on a downhill trend in recent years. An average of one book store a day closed down in 1992, and last year the figure increased to two a day, according to a report in the official People's Daily,. In the early 1950s, there were 307 bookstores in Beijing, the report said. Today there are only 112. And Shanghai has 687 newspaper and magazine shops today, compared with about 1,000 in 1992, the report said. Analysts contended that it was the get-rich-quick drive, the inefficient management of bookstores and the lack of quality books that had led to the depression. On Tuesday, China's largest book complex opened in Guangzhou at the same time as the only bookstore in the city's main road was forced to make way for more lucrative shops and evacuate to a small, quiet alley. The evacuation of bookstores from town centres has been happening in most big cities across the country. The four-decade old Xinhua Bookstore in Wangfujing street in central Beijing closed down about 10 days ago. Opened in February 1949, four days after the liberation of Beijing, the bookstore was the largest Xinhua bookstore in the country with a turnover of 60 million yuan last year (HK$54.48 million). It will be reopened at a later stage , but in a side street in the vicinity, reports said. The People's Daily report said the century-old Ten Bamboo Bookstore in Nanjing, capital of Zhejiang, had been turned into the Li Ning Sportswear shop. In Shanghai, not one single bookstore could be found along Dongfang Road in the shopping district, it said. Meanwhile, many bookstores have disappeared from streets. 'Owners of bookstores have realised that they can earn very little from their customers. 'So, to be part of the 'mainstream', they turn their shops into food shops, restaurants or hardware stores,' the report said. Sources in the industry pointed out that books had become too expensive for ordinary Chinese people. Also, high-quality books were appearing less frequently. 'Just go around to the bookstores and you will see how little choice there is. Many are badly printed on poor-quality paper, while in many side street stands, 90 per cent is popular fiction,' the source said.