A nationwide survey released earlier this year said an average Chinese adult read less than eight books , among which 4.58 were paper books and 3.26 e-books. With digital books becoming more popular, many would find it hard to remember the last time they sat down in a bookstore and enjoyed a tranquil moment.
But this does not mean that bookstores are losing their appeal. To lure more readers, bookstores are now bigger, more beautiful and grander.
With 4 months left in 2017, here I take a look at some of the most beautiful bookstores in China in the hope that you would be able to visit at least one of them in 2017.
Librairie Avant-Garde [Photo/VCG]
1. Librairie Avant-Garde, Nanjing
As a cultural icon in Nanjing, East China’s Jiangsu province, Librairie Avant-Garde is a must-see for both book lovers and travelers. The bookshop was listed among the world’s most beautiful bookshops by BBC in 2014.
The 4,000-square-meter store, founded in 1996, now sits in an underground parking lot, housing more than 300,000 books, mainly philosophy, literature, history and art.
The OWspace branch in Beijing’s Aegean Shopping Mall. [Photo/The official account of OWSpace in Douban]
2. OWspace, Beijing
OWspace, also known by its earlier name One Way Street Library, is more than a bookshop. With a long tradition of hosting literary, musical and art events, the chain store, now running three branches in Beijing, regularly invites authors and artists from both China and abroad to interact with bookworms and art lovers.
It’s now become a literature and art hub in Beijing – especially among young people.
Zhongshuge, Hangzhou. [Photo/VCG]
Walking into a Zhongshuge bookstore is like entering a sea of books, above the ceiling overhead, beneath the floor under your feet, on the walls, and under the steps of the staircases.
Zhongshuge is known by its appealing aesthetic interior designs. The chain brand now has branches in Shanghai, Hangzhou, and Yangzhou.
Eslite, Suzhou. [Photo/VCG]
4. Eslite, Suzhou
The Taiwan-based Eslite opened its first branch on the Chinese mainland in Suzhou, East China’s Jiangsu province, due to its popularity among book lovers.
The store houses over 500,000 books, of which one-third are from Taiwan. It’s also famous for varied creative cultural products. Wandering inside, you may get lost which books and exquisite cups to buy.
The bookworm. [Photo/Agencies]
5. The bookworm, Beijing
The bookworm is bookshop, bistro and café all in one. Hidden in downtown Beijing’s Sanlitun bar area, the place is among the most popular for expats looking for some international experience in the Chinese capital.
In addition to a large variety of books, the European-style shop also holds lectures and cultural events. It’s often possible for visitors to encounter celebrated authors, literary and art workers in the cozy place.
The ‘loneliest library’. [Photo/VCG]
6. The “loneliest library”, Hebei
Dubbed by many as the “loneliest library” in China, the Sanlian Public Library stands alone on the seafront of Beidaihe – a holiday resort in North China’s Qinhuangdao, Hebei province.
The 450-square-meter library gained instant fame in April 2015, becoming quite a draw among those seeking some peace and quietness while enjoying the tides.
Liyuan Library. [Photo/VCG]
7. Liyuan Library, Beijing
Nestled in mountains of Huairou on the outskirts of Beijing, the Liyuan Library is a cozy place to escape from the crowded urban life in Beijing. It houses over 10,000 books ranging from works of literature and art to history and philosophy.
The most outstanding part in its structure is that the exterior walls and roof of the 170-square-meter library are covered with 40,000 firewood sticks.
The building was one of the winning designs in the 2013 Architecture of Necessity competition in Sweden, designed by Li Xiaodong, a Chinese architect and professor of Tsinghua University.
Paradise Time Travel Bookstore [Photo/IC]
8. Paradise Time Travel Bookstore, Tibet
Tibet is a must-visit on many people’s travel list, and bumping into an exotic bookshop decorated with a distinguished Tibetan ethnic style may be an extra surprise for travelers.
The Paradise Time Travel Bookstore is located near the Princess Wencheng Theater in Lhasa.
Fang Suo Commune. [Photo/VCG]
9. Fang Suo Commune, Guangzhou
The Fang Suo Commune is a 2,000-square-meter place for reading, relaxing and shopping in downtown Guangzhou, South China’s Guangdong province.
In the center is a café, and outside of it is space for exhibition and plants. The outmost area is for books and fashion.
The store houses over 90,000 publications from both China and abroad, covering mainly designing, architecture, literature and arts.
Poplar Kid’s Republic. [Photo/IC]
10. Poplar Kid’s Republic, Beijing
The Poplar Kid’s Republic, sitting in Beijing’s CBD area, is a fairyland of picture books for children.
The bookshop was selected among one of the most beautiful bookshops in the world by Flavorwire, a popular US news website about art and culture, in 2012.
The colorful designs inside are aimed at inspiring kids’ curiosity to explore books. Pushing the glass doors open, you will see children’s drawings and craftworks hanging on the pink walls, leading you into a world full of imagination.