Although many brick-and-mortar stores have closed around the world, others have opened with even more pomp and grandeur than ever before. We’ve rounded up five of the most incredible bookstores in China, for those of us that still appreciate the tactile quality of the perusable page:
Sinan Books, Shanghai
An outpost of the London Review Bookshop, Sinan Books in Shanghai features four multi-coloured storeys of books across its 6,889 sqft space, as well as a café and living room, a recording studio, open areas for exhibitions, and nooks for reading. Housed in Building 25, one of the colonial Sinan Mansions, the bookstore is designed by Shanghai-based Wutopia Lab, who has each floor likened to a part of the human body.
The basement level as the subconscious, with books on history and philosophy; the ground entrance level—the heart—is home to a café and living room; the first floor as the eyes and ears, with areas dedicated to art and music, as well as spaces for book club events, exhibitions and mini concerts; and the fourth as the brain, featuring a quiet writer’s study and space for saloons. There’s also a white marble terrace on the rooftop.
Sinan Mansion, 517 Fuxing Zhong Lu, Shanghai, China
Xi’an Zhongshu Bookstore, Shaanxi
Photo: CreatAR Images
In Xi’an, capital of Shaanxi province and the capital city of 13 dynasties, Zhongshu Bookstore is a fantastical, all-white feat. Made with 300 tonnes of steel and 30,000 metres of light strips, the store is marked by bright, white curves all around, from the spiral staircase at the entrance to the curved bookshelves snaking their way across the 6,187sqft room.
There are reading benches in the form of curved blocks, a dedicated children’s book area and a conference room beneath a glass floor. Also designed by Wutopia Lab, this store has the mesmerising effect of bouncing light around its cool white palette and steel and glass touches—not a bad space to get one’s reading and book shopping done.
Xi’an Zhongshu Bookstore, 67 Ming Guang Lu, Weiyang Qu, Xian Shi, Shaanxi Sheng, China
Yangzhou Zhongshuge, Yangzhou
Photo: Shao Feng
Zhongshuge’s Yangzhou outpost is located by the water in Zhen Yuan, inspiring its interiors: an underground tunnel-like room complete with reflective flooring to mimic the surface of water.
Designed by Li Xiang of interior design firm XL-Muse, the room is dominated by mood lighting and a brooding palette; curved pillars arching upwards, creating the illusion of endless mirror tunnels; and long corridors with book shelves lined up to the ceiling. Wooden seating and tables mark the reading areas, while the children’s space is more colourful and bedecked with a dark ceiling of starry lights.
Yangzhou Zhongshuge, 9th Alley, Guangling Qu, Yangzhou Shi, Jiangsu Sheng, China
Yueyue/Zhida Bookstore, Shanghai
Two bookstores in one make Yueyue/Zhida Bookstore on Guoquan Road in Shanghai, recognisable for its bold blue door and interiors with a pop of orange. Designed by Atelier Archmixing, the concept accommodates the preferences of storeowners Zou Bin and Luo Hong; one wanted to focus onliberal arts titles, while the other preferred a more general book selection with space for hostingevents and activities.
To create the two-in-one bookstore, a triangular ‘sorting’ device was designed for the entrance area, which would sit against doors that would open to either direction of the bookstore—the moody, library-like wood-toned literature and history section, or the bright, steel-clad general books section.
Yueyue/Zhida Bookstore, 525 Guoquan Road, Shanghai, China
Hangzhou Zhongshuge Bookstore, Hangzhou
A vibe of smoke and mirrors fill the Hangzhou branch of Zhongshuge Bookstore, designed by XL-Muse. Outfitted with reflective surfaces, shoppers are immersed in what feels like a parallel universe of books with the combination of bright white and brooding wood lending futuristic and fantastical touches to the space.
There’s a dedicated children’s library reminiscent of an amusement park with a rollercoaster-like book display, circular bookshelves mounted to the walls and more mirrors that further create a sense of fantasy. The reading theatre, meanwhile, occupies an oval room with wraparound shelves, its dark surfaces contributing a cosy and meditative feel.
Hangzhou Zhongshuge Bookstore, Shop 101 Building 4, Star Avenue, Binjiang District, Hangzhou, China
See also: 10 Non-Fiction Books To Read In 2018