Tag Archives: Bookstores

Do you live in a City of Literature?


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

A Beijing bookstore where George Washington is on the shelves

After the brutal suppression of China’s 1989 democracy movement, Liu Suli, a student leader who had narrowly escaped being gunned down near Tiananmen Square, recalled a boyhood dream as he brooded in his prison cell.

If he owned a bookstore, he had mused at the age of 7, he wouldn’t have to spend money on books. From behind bars, and with his entrepreneurial drive still intact, he saw his dream in a different light. A bookstore might be a more plausible way to pursue the freedom of ideas that he and hundreds of thousands of others had failed to win with public protest.

He got out of jail fairly quickly. The authorities lightened up a bit. He opened a bookstore and ordered an eclectic range of volumes that leaned toward philosophy, history, political science and an ample dose of Western thought.

And now the All Sages Bookstore, a haven of precisely arranged shelves and display tables, thrives on the low-rent second floor of a nondescript building near Peking University.

A survivor of Beijing’s ferocious property market — it has moved three times since 1993 — and the government’s extremely tight censorship in the era of President Xi Jinping’s rule, the store represents an independent political spirit in an authoritarian one-party state.

A large image of Bertrand Russell, the British philosopher and freethinker, stands out among a galaxy of literary posters lining the wall of the entry staircase, a taste of what’s to come.

“China is not a liberal society, it’s not a free country,” Mr. Liu said, sitting in a quiet corner of the Thinkers Cafe, a mellow hangout within the store that meanders along a side corridor to a small back room furnished with antique Chinese furniture.

“But the bookstore is a way to express our longing for freedom and our hope for the establishment of a free society,” he said.

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Dear Independent Bookstores, Thank You For Everything!

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.

When we stepped outside, he smiled and whispered, “I find bookstores calming, and reassuring. Sort of addictive — one can never pass one by without going in, no?” Read more
Source: Huffington Post

Chinese bookstores adapt to social changes

By Xinhua

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

India: Bengaluru’s great big book industry

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

China: Book lovers flock to 117-year-old store run by elderly man

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

London: A bookstore is giving away free books for an entire lifetime

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

Mo Yan’s novels failing in China?


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.

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