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Embattled bookstores look to start new chapter

[ 2010-09-30 10:23]     字号 [] [] []  
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Book lovers throughout the city must surely be worried about the fate of Beijing's bookstores, which are not only facing fierce competition from online retailers, but the potentially crushing burden of expensive rents.

"The bigger and closer the bookstore is to an expensive location, the higher the risk of losing money," said Deng Xin. Deng was in charge of logistics for Disanji, which was once China's largest private bookstore, occupying four floors of a building in Zhongguancun.

The company ceased trading in early January with a loss of 78 million yuan for its three-year operation.

Sun Tingting, publication manager of Lady Book Salon, admitted the store also faced the challenge of high rent, but said that the competition from online bookstores was also impacting the sales of books.

Online retailers, like dangdang.com, have lured away more and more readers because of the discounts they offer.

Readers are also abandoning bookstores to read e-books using their computers or MP3s.

To survive the fierce competition from the Internet and escalating rents, Sun stressed the importance of bookstores creating distinct characteristics and finding a niche. "A bookstore should no longer be defined as a store selling books, but a place offering a lifestyle for city dwellers," Sun said.

Lady Book Salon, the city's first bookstore focusing on female readers, is trying to maximize its niche.

The bookstore not only welcomes mothers to bring their children but also holds birthday parties, women's gatherings, workshops and regular seminars.

The bookstore also offers special drinks and fruit tea for women in their cafe.

The bookstore, which opened in 2007, already has two other branches in the city.

O2Sun, one of the most famous bookstore chains in Beijing, was among the first generation of bookstores to adopt a business model that is more than just selling printed publications.

Customers can also buy souvenirs and music CDs, and even drink coffee in the store's cafe section.

Another well-known private bookstore in Beijing, One Way Street Library, relocated from Yuanmingyuan to Solana Lifestyle Shopping Center.

It has become very popular among white-collar workers and college students as a place to hang out on weekends because of the regular lectures and salons it holds on the second floor.


(中国日报网英语点津 Helen 编辑)

Embattled bookstores look to start new chapter

About the broadcaster:

Embattled bookstores look to start new chapter

Nelly Min is an editor at China Daily with more than 10 years of experience as a newspaper editor and photographer. She has worked at major newspapers in the U.S., including the Los Angeles Times and the Detroit Free Press. She is fluent in Korean and has a 2-year-old son.