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Introducing China’s Newest Accommodation Hotspot: Bookstores

Go backpacking, fall asleep among a bunch of books

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Most people would like to crawl into a big, comfy bed after a long day of sightseeing. But for some Chinese, the perfect way to end their days when traveling is to fall asleep in a room full of books.

As reported by the People’s Daily Online, bookstores doubling as hostels is a growing trend that may become mainstream in China. Mephisto Bookstore in Shanghai has experimented with renting out a pair of rooms, and ten bookstores have expressed an interest in pursuing the idea in the future.

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But of all the places to fall asleep in, why a bookstore? We could guess that there’s familiarity in books, or that bookstores are already associated with being a quiet place, or that spending more time in a literary environment can make one smarter through osmosis.

But Lian Zhen of the Fengyasong Bookstore in Qianzhou has a more heartfelt answer: romance. Lian said that she has missed out on visiting a number of famous international bookstores due to a lack of time, and theorizes it would be more ideal if bookstores would destinations to stay at, rather than visit:

If a bookstore was the very last stop of my day (while traveling) in which I could put up my feet, read, and then go to bed, then that would be an exquisite experience.

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Author Pan Caifu has long called for bookstores to serve as accommodations:

Bookstores are the most beautiful places to stay in. Why not have bookstore managers become landlords and accept book-loving backpackers as temporary tenants?

Bookstores around the world have been impacted by electronic publishing, as brick-and-mortar bookstores have had to contend with competition from online booksellers who don’t need to contend with retail spaces and customers who browse their products all day without making one purchase.

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At the same time, accommodation-sharing services like Airbnb have leveled the playing field, allowing backpackers to seek out overnight vacancies in bookstores. Some backpackers have set up tents on bookstore floors during their stays among shelves of books. Because even if you can’t get to sleep in a bookstore, you can always find something to read until you do.

Charles Liu

The Nanfang's Senior Editor