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Chen Naiqian

chinadaily.com.cn| Updated : Mar 8, 2022

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Chen Naiqian, a Jiaxing native. [Photo provided to chinadaily.com.cn]

Chen Naiqian (1896-1971), born in Haining, Jiaxing, was a bibliographer and publisher and the first person in China to make photocopies of precious ancient books.

Before electronic media, book collectors were important for the circulation of books and they preserved valuable intellectual works for later generations.

Haining was home to many book collectors, including the Chen family. Inspired by his family, Chen Naiqian dedicated his whole life to ancient Chinese books and reference books.

In 1925, Chen set up a bookstore allowing people to buy ancient books via letter, making it the first bookstore to offer such a service.

After the founding of the the People's Republic of China, Chen was put in charge of the Yongle Canon, which was compiled during the Yongle reign of the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644)) and is a collection of ancient Chinese books.

Chen loves collecting books and collected nearly 10,000 books throughout his life. In 1956 when he went to work in Beijing, he leased one carriage of the train to transport his collections.