By Wuping Zhao
SHANGHAI: Taipei’s largest bookstore chain Eslite will set up a branch in Shanghai soon, according to a statement given by Robert Wu Ching-Yu, chairman of the bookstore, at the ongoing World Expo in Shanghai last week.
Shanghai will be the third Chinese mainland city to have an Eslite bookstore, Robert Wu Ching-yu said. In the past months, Eslite reached agreements with Suzhou, Hangzhou and Nanjing — three major Yangtze Delta cities around Shanghai — to set up branches of its bookstore chain. And the first Chinese Eslite Books location will open in Suzhou, a noted tourist neighborhood in Shanghai, as early as in 2014. However, high rent prices in this area will be an obstacles that Eslite must overcome in its move to Shanghai.
There are about 7,000 bookstores in Shanghai, and 500 of them are under the control of the state-owned Xinhua Bookstore, the largest bookstore chain in China. However, Shanghai is not an easy city for bookstores to survive. In July, Open Close Open, the city’s only poetry bookstore closed. And the closure of Scholar Bookstore and Mingjun Bookstore, two leading privately owned chain bookstores in Shanghai, caused fierce debates among booksellers and publishers about the increasing effects of online bookselling around the country.
Eslite founded its first Taipei bookstore in 1989, and was selected as Asia’s Best Bookstore by Time magazine in 2004. It has around 53 bookstores across the country in Taiwan. Nearly one million readers visit its stores each year, and tourists from Japan, Hong Kong and mainland China are eager to visit the Eslite flagship branch in Taipei, which has become a landmark and stays open 24 hour a day.
Wuping Zhao is the vice president for Shanghai Translation Publishing House. He graduated from the Columbia University Publishing Course in 2009. Prior to his publishing career, he spent seven years as a book reporter at China Reading Weekly in Beijing.