Education

Reading at China's tallest bookstore in Xiamen's Haicang

Updated: 2014-01-13
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Zhi De Shi Dai, or Times of Paper Bookstore, is located on the 2nd floor on the Wal-Mart side of the newly opened Too Aluohai City Plaza in Xiamen’s mainland Haicang District.
  
With the bookshelves standing at 9m tall, and readers needing the help of a movable ladder to get books on the top of shelves, Zhi De Shi Dai, or Times of Paper Bookstore, in Xiamen’s mainland Haicang District quickly rose to fame since its opening in May last year for being the tallest bookstore in China.

The bookstore opened at a time when physical bookstores are facing a grim future as the public turns to digital literature. Many bookstores are shuttering their windows in recent years, for instance, O2Sun, a Xiamen-based privately-owned bookstore chain, closed all its bookstores in Xiamen and Beijing in 2012 due to decreasing profits and increasing rent.
 
 

The bookstore quickly rose to fame since its opening in May last year for being the tallest bookstore in China.
 
However, Mrs. Lin Huimin, the manager of Times of Paper, said they want to create a “Times of Paper” with the bookstore in this electronic age when people are getting used to reading books on mobile phones and tablets.
 
In a manifesto, they wrote “The meeting of paper and words created my times. This is the worst of times, and also the best of times, and more importantly, this is the time when we are striving to build our ‘Times of Paper’.”
 
Comfortable environment offers rich reading experience

 

 
 
Located on the 2nd floor on the Wal-Mart side of the newly opened Too Aluohai City Plaza, which is built along the picturesque Haicang Lake and boasts the city’s most comfortable and relaxing shopping environment, the ‘L-shaped’ bookstore is nicely decorated, warmly illuminated and well filled with books mostly in the humanities, social sciences, literature, arts and design.

The wood floor matched with modern wood and leather chairs, square and round tables, desk lamps and lovely green potted plants, all make the spacious bookstore a comfortable place for reading books.

On the side facing the lake, there is a row of wooden chairs and desks against the tall French windows where readers can sit comfortably in the chairs with a book and take a break while appreciating the picturesque lake and ocean afar through the windows, or just listen to the light music after tiring of reading their book.

The bookstore offers free Wi-Fi service, and there is a café bar in the bookstore that serves tea, coffee, bread and tasty snacks.
 
 
 
Selling books at the same prices as on dangdang.com  

Beside the comfortable reading environment, the bookstore also sells books at extremely low prices, the same as on dangdang.com, China's biggest online bookseller famous for selling books at big discounts.

The bookstore promises to sell books at the same prices as on dangdang.com, with a maximum discount of 35%. If the books are sold at a price lower than a 35% discount on dangdang.com, the bookstore will sell the books at a 35% discount and cover the difference in price with coffee vouchers. If the books are not available on dangdang.com, the bookstore will sell them at a 10% discount.
 
 

 
   
Physical bookstores always suffer losses in competition with online booksellers as they have to cover additional shop rent and labor costs, and many are forced to survive by making profits from offering other services, from coffee to stationary. However, this bookstore is the first in China that dares to compete with online booksellers by selling books at the same price.

Many wonder if the store can make profits from selling books, however, Mrs. Lin said their main point is not about making profits, but about being a nice bookstore. “We’ve opened the bookstore for the public welfare and have not considered profits so far. We are undertaking a new method to contributing to the country’s cultural undertakings,” said Lin.

The bookstore allows its readers to take photos of the books and even offers a scanning service for readers.
 
 

The bookshelves stand at 9m tall, and readers needing the help of a movable ladder to get books on the top of shelves
  
Holding various exchange and cultural activities on weekends

The bookstore includes a reading area, coffee area, salon area and an exhibition area, with different areas specially designed for different purposes.

In the salon area, new book signings, book-readings, paper folding, paper cutting and other cultural activities are held on the weekends (mostly Friday and Saturday nights), and in the exhibition area they hold book fairs, art shows and photo exhibitions occasionally. The bookstore offers a free exhibition venue for students and young artists to show off their works there.
 
 
 
There is also a special paper product area in the bookstore where one can find high-quality paper products of various sizes and colors that are made from environmental-friendly material. Professional teachers will give instructions on how to make paper products, such as roses, cranes and bookmarks on Fridays and Saturdays.

Mrs. Lin expressed her hope that the bookstore will become a cultural landmark and an oasis of culture where people can sit down quietly to seek their own inner peace from the books in this bustling city.

Times of Paper Bookstore
Add: B263-268, Too Aluohai City Plaza, No. 60-80 Binhubei Er Lu, Haicang District, Xiamen
Operating hours: 12:00 - 24:00 (Monday to Friday) 10:00 – 24:00 (Saturday, Sunday)
Phone numbers: 0592-6895100
How to get there by bus: Take bus No. 858, 842, 852, and get off at Too Aluohai City Plaza stop (阿罗海城市广场站) or Haicang Guoshui stop (海沧国税站). 
 
SOURCE: WOX Info by Roland Su
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