A Visual Tour for Booklovers
A “Destination Location” Without a Doubt
For more than a decade, my husband and I ran a “destination” fabric store and retreat center. By “destination,” I mean that our store was so unique in our artful creation of displays and how we merchandised our wares that it became known as a “destination location,” somewhere that people would travel a long way to see.
If you take that concept of making a place something to see and then multiply it by a million, you’ve got the Destination Bookstore in the Chinese province of Sichuan in a town called Dujiangyan. (If I had money, I’d book a trip to see it right now!)
This Dujiangyan bookstore is a bibliophile’s ticket to dream-world. More than 80,000 books are displayed in the 10,500 square foot bookstore designed like a labyrinth. Shoppers can wander through curved walls filled with books, stroll through massive archways, and climb spiral staircases to get high with the books.
The volumes on the highest levels are decorative only, but the other 80,000 volumes are in reach for the customers who can search through 20,000 categories.
A mirrored ceiling makes the space feel unlimited, and the glossy black floors add a sense of floating through the air.
Architectural Creativity in Bookworld
X + Living is a Shanghai-based company that has designed multiple bookstores for Zhongshuge, a huge book retailer in China. Once I saw the pictures of the Dujiangyan store, I started researching the Zongshuge company. Every bookstore they’ve built is a combination of wonder and visual impact, the kind of paradise that book lovers like me dream about.
If money were no object, I’d be booking a Zongshuge bookstore tour, browsing and book-buying my way through China.
Book Retailing in a Difficult Time
Are you wondering how a company can possibly make any money on these massive architectural bookstore beauties?
In America, we know that before the pandemic, independent retail bookstores were on the rise, but those are not the megastores that the Zongshuge stores in China are.
Maybe retail and profits just work differently in a country where education is universally valued. Maybe there are more people interested in books in China than there are in the United States. Maybe people spend more money on books there than they do on the other necessities of life.
Publishing in Other Countries
If I asked you to guess which country publishes the most books every year, what would you guess?
The United States? England? Russia?
The correct answer would be China. In a survey done in 2017, the United States publishes almost 305,000 books per year. The Chinese publish 440,000 per year — which may explain the gorgeous bookstores featured here.
Bookstores as a Travel Destination
Whenever I travel to a different city, my goal is to visit at least one independent bookstore, and I’m never disappointed at the personality and offerings of each unique store. But I’ve never seen anything like these.
I’ll probably never get the chance to travel to China again, but if I do, these fabulous bookstores will be my destination of choice, satisfying both my wanderlust and my Literature Lust.
Books and book-buildings are beautiful, indeed.
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