Where stylish design meets literary substance
As a city of art and culture, more and more bookstores are springing up across Shanghai. JIC Bookstore is one of the city's top purveyors of literature. The renovated store has gotten plenty of attention for its attractive design and large selection. Shanghai Daily’s own Holin Wang and Zhang Yang recently stopped by on a tour of the city’s most unique book sellers.
Located in an office building in the North Bund Business Center, JIC Books is a wonderland for book lovers.
Recently reopened after a redecoration process, this store covers three stories and is surrounded by transparent glass windows that let in plenty of natural light. It’s a modern setting with classical decorations like antique table lamps and deep brown furniture.
There are also several floor-to-ceiling bookshelves that add an element of grandeur to the store’s retail space.
Literary works and books on art and culture are the main focus of JIC Books. The store is also a standout for its massive selection of biographies, which is said to be one of the largest in the country.
“We aim to become the top seller of biographies,” Liu Gui, general manager of JIC Bookstore Investment Co, told Shanghai Daily.
“It’s hard to find poplar titles on the racks here, or ‘Chick Soup for the Soul’ type books here,” said Morgan Zhang, with the store’s marketing department.
Every month, the store will highlight a key person. His or her biography will be sold along with related works. This month’s subject is short-story writer and essayist Lu Xun. Next month, local novelist Eileen Chang (also known as Zhang Ailing) will be in the spotlight.
JIC Books offers more than books. It’s reading and coffee area are highlights, too. These offer views of the Huangpu River where guest can relax and peruse through new books while enjoying a coffee.
Liu Gui emphasized: “The new design put the reader’s experience of buying and reading books first.”
During a recent weekday afternoon visit by Shanghai Daily, all of the window-adjacent chairs were occupied.
Zhang said: “You can rarely find a chair to sit in during peak times, like weekends.”
The coffee area on the third floor provides a variety of coffees and cakes.
Another highlight, also on the same floor, is the hall that’s open to the public during events.
This magnificent space features 14-meter high ceilings, a British-style dome and French windows with spectacular views of the Huangpu River.
A European palace-style corridor links the dazzling hall and the shop’s retail space.
Liu hopes the space can be used for cultural and readers’ exchange events. Zhang added: “Originally the event area on the second floor could only hold 40 readers, while this brand new place can hold 120 or more altogether.”
The store regularly holds cultural activities and events.
On July 15 this year, just a week after the bookstore reopened to the public, it was named one of the “most beautiful bookstores” in China by voters during China Bookstore Week, a national event encouraging people to read.
In fact, many people come just to photograph this captivating space. This was evident during Shanghai Daily’s visit, when camera-totting visitors and selfie-takers were visible throughout the store.
As Zhang mentioned, JIC Books can get quite crowded on the weekends. The quietest time to visit is on weekday mornings.
Collection volume: Around 23,000 books
Area: About 1,500 square meters
Passenger flow: Around 400/day during weekdays, 1,200-1,500/ day in weekends
Wechat: Shujuke (JIC)
Tips: If you want professional suggestion or book recommendation, you can look for the salesmen here, for they are all good book consultants.
Zhongshuge (Réel Shopping Mall)
Thanks to its unique design, Zhongshuge caught the public’s attention soon after it opened its first store in Thames Town in Songjiang District in 2013.
Zhongshuge recently opened a downtown outlet on the fourth floor of Réel Shopping Mall in Jing’an District. When you step into this bookstore, you will find people taking pictures and posing for selfies all over the store.
Named after the daughter of its owner, the store has 800 square meters of floor space and sells more than 15,000 titles in subjects like art, lifestyle, literature and economics, among others. There are zebra crossings on the floor to remind people to walk slowly and narrow aisles that recall the city’s old alleys. The glass ceiling makes the space appear big and airy.
Besides selling books, there’s also a cafe called Pyramid Coffee. Seats are limited and reserved for paying customers only.
Collection volume: More than 15,000 books
The-MIX-PLACE doesn’t market itself as a bookstore. It would rather be known as an “art and culture life space” that happens to sell books and magazines. It’s located in a three-story villa on Hengshan Road and surrounded by garden villas and new lane houses.
Near there entrance is a selection of best-selling titles. There’s a cafe bar to the left. Several chairs are placed in a corner space beside French windows. Black wooden bookshelves are located nearby and stocked with a selection of tomes on art, film and culture. On the third floor is a selection of about 500 imported magazines from all over the world.
Collection volume: About 25,000 books and 500 kinds of magazines