This year Lahore has been dubbed a City Of Literature.
What does it mean to be a City of Literature? How do you become a City of Literature?
City of Literature is a venture initiated by UNESCO in 2004, where Nanjing and Baghdad figure; Stratford on Avon, Oxford and Cambridge do not. Edinburgh was the first city identified under this scheme. Manchester, Melbourne, Prague, Durban and Milan find spots on the list.
So, how do they judge which city is the right pick?
These are the features they look for quality, quantity, and diversity of publishing in the city; educational programmes focusing on domestic or foreign literature at primary, secondary, and tertiary levels; how important the role of literature, drama, and poetry are in the city. They also check out how many literary events and festivals promoting domestic and foreign literature are hosted in the city.
Manchester has the library. Edinburgh hosts the International Book Festival and has its own poet laureate. Melbourne has more than 300 bookshops. There are seven Asian cities in the list including Nanjing and, now, Lahore. Read more
By Tanu Shree Singh
The year: 1985
The place: Delhi.
The occasion: Nani gave some pocket money to two grand-kids who were now itching to go to the nearby market and splurge.
I remember the excitement. I remember the trip to the market. I remember us being in a hurry to step out of the car, and I remember the towering bookshelves. I definitely remember the smell of books, the glossy, new ones that the fat pocket money could buy, and I remember the bliss. Trips to bookstores were few and far between, mostly because we stayed far away and splurging was not an option. But those few trips to those tiny bookstores tucked away in inconspicuous corners are etched in our hearts forever.
The year: 2015
The place: Leh
The occasion: Nothing. The younger one spotted a bookstore.
“Can I go in, please?”
All I could do is smile.
We entered the tiny bookstore that also doubled as a stationery shop. The younger one ran his hands over some books, took some out, flipped a few pages, and when no one was looking drew a deep breath in. I caught him, and sheepish, understanding grins were exchanged.
For Gao Hengrui, 20, going to a bookstore is no longer only about buying books, rather, it is a “culture hunt.”
Wine tasting, photo exhibitions, themed lectures — cultural events like these have made bookstores a “must-go” for young Chinese.
“Bookstores today are not just stores, but public spaces where people can relax,” Gao said.
As China’s consumer spending on culture grows, the country’s bookstores are reinventing themselves. Redefining themselves as “knowledge centers” or “cultural hubs,” physical bookstores are reviving an industry in a downturn.
CITIC Books, the book chain owned by Chinese conglomerate CITIC Group, for example, offers value-added services to meet the demand of a niche market.
CITIC Books targets a group of customers it calls “the rising class,” offering them new products in its bookstores, such as drones and 3D-enabled phones. Read more
Source: China Daily
What makes this city such an attractive destination for book sellers, stores and writers alike?
Bengaluru is home to writers from novelist Anita Nair to historian Ramachandra Guha, has seen bookstores such as Blossoms, Gangarams and Bookworm grow into legendary institutions and has its share of libraries and book clubs. Recently, both Blossom and Bookworm have set up bigger stores in the city. We explore what makes Bengaluru such a delight for book lovers and authors alike.
On a cool Saturday afternoon, architect Radhika Sethi is sifting through a collection of books and finally fishes out an old copy of Amitav Ghosh’s The Hungry Tide at the new Bookworm store on Church street. “It is not the same as getting a new copy. I love the smell and feel of old books. Blossoms and Bookworm are my favourite haunts since I get the best books and discover something new every time I come. If all your book purchases are online, you will not move beyond the bestsellers. Read more
Jiang Chengbo is 90. He is running a 117-year-old antique bookstore inherited from his grandfather, and that has made him an internet celebrity.
Jiang, the third-generation owner of the store, said that after visitors began talking about it onthe internet, book lovers from across the country have come to look for books and takephotos with him.
Located in the Gusu district of Suzhou, in East China’s Jiangsu province, the store covers about 20 square meters and is filled with shelves on three sides with books categorized as literature, history and philosophy.
Known as Wenxueshanfang, or “house of mountain of literature”, the store was founded with a loan in 1899. After more than two decades of diligent management by Jiang’s grandfather and father, the store paid back the debt and bought a large number of antique books, some of which were rare books, becoming one of the most famous antique bookstores in eastern China. Read more
Every book lover who likes to take to the couch with a cup of coffee and that one favourite book will understand the delight of receiving books delivered to their doorstep throughout their life, for free.
Now a bookstore in London has an offer that no bibliophile can refuse, as it is bringing to reality something that has been every book lover’s greatest fantasy ever. The store named Heywood Hill will be supplying free books to a select few anywhere in the world, till they die. Read more
Bookstores across China returned thousands of copies of writer Mo Yan’s novels to his publishers at the end of last year. Is literature facing a crisis?
Mo Yan’s novels are not doing well. According to Wen Hui Daily, a Shanghai-based newspaper with a tradition of reporting onculture, bookstores around China returned copies of the Nobel laureate’s books – valued at 9.5 million yuan ($1.53 million) based on their prices – to his publishers at the end of 2014. They account for 10 percent of the total printed copies of his books.
The price of a Mo Yan book ranges from 30 to 40 yuan at local bookstores.
A surge in round-the-clock bookstores across China is helping lovers of traditional books readmore, without hampering their day jobs, as Liu Zhihua finds out. Read more
Yandi Mbeki (pseudonym), the 39 year-old wife of a diplomat from South Africa, Googled “English bookshops in Beijing” on her arrival in the city, but found no really helpful guides. For the first five months of her stay, she went to a small community bookshop near her home and resorted to amazon.cn to find textbooks in English. Read more