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Wednesday, August 22, 2007


A Chinese bookshop

I went to visit a bookshop here just to see what it is like. It's huge. There are four floors and any one floor would qualify as a big shop in Australia. The Chinese language sections appear to cover just about everything. There is a foreign language section, not so huge, but substantial, catering mostly to English learners rather than expats.

What I could see that was quite different to bookshops in Australia is that most customers regard the shop as a reading library. People find a comfortable spot either on the floor or a ledge somewhere and relax with a book. There are literally hundreds of people, who are probably not customers in the sense that we understand, taking advantage of the opportunity to read perhaps a whole book.

I asked an acquaintance, who found nothing unusual about this and also pointed out that in the heat the airconditioning made it a pleasant place to escape for a few hours. This particular shop is one of a China-wide chain called Xinhua which, I am told, is owned by the government.

I've also noticed that the free-reading practice is common in the local supermarket which has a substantial book section too. Here I found so many people sitting on the floor between the shelves that it would have been very difficult for a genuine buyer to find the book they wanted.

Another interesting sight in the bookshop is the stickers at the end of many of the shelves. They are bilingual, not sure what it says in Chinese but in English it says: 'BERARE OF PICKPOCKETS'.

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