A tranquil corner in the hustling and bustling Lujiazui area. Jihe Bookstore has a beautiful interior - one section of the store will remind you of the Hogwarts library with its rolls of columns and arches, and another section resembles a volcanic mountain cave. The stock at this place is heavenly, but only if you know enough Chinese to read about history and culture - not too many English books carried here, except for some literature and a small selection of art books.
Duoyun belongs to a gigantic Chinese publishing group which also owns several other bookstores in the city, including Sinan Books, but this flagship store is the most gorgeous. It is fifty-two floors up in Shanghai Tower, with a panoramic view of the Lujiazui area. The interior is designed by the same person who did the Sinan Books on Gaolan Lu — very modern but not sterile. This bookstore has long been a wanghong. When it first opened, the queue to get inside was over an hour. There are window seats where you can read or daydream above the clouds. In Chinese, there’s a great selection of literature and novels, and an English lit section by the London Review.
A bookstore with a killer view of the Bund and Lujiazui’s skyline. Built in 2016 by China Jianyin Investment, a big state-owned construction and investment firm, JIC Books won the Most Popular Bookstore Award at the China Bookstore Week that year. Its main hall is magnificent, like a train station from the 1800s. They specialize in biographies and autobiographies, which is rare to see. But all in Chinese. Go to chill at the café, which serves decent coffee.
A truly lovely little spot in the city. Yi Jian is not a bookstore, but a membership-based library slash quiet space. A tiny storefront on Nanchang Lu in spotless white leads into a six-story villa. The minimalist interior is done in wood and beige, and when the sunlight comes through the French windows and hits the books… it’s just a lovely experience. Most of their 10,000+ books are in Chinese, but you may find some of the owner’s personal collection in English on world history. Many people also purchase a membership (starts at 688rmb quarterly) to use Yi Jian as a quiet space to work or study.
Zhong Shu Ge is a chain known for big-size bookstores and their interior design. Its Jing’An store inside Reel Mall has long been a popular spot among Chinese readers. This new location opened in January 2020, very close to the West Bund - huge, solemn, with narrow and dimly lit archways. Like a Gothic church. It is unbelievably quiet, and a great place to do some serious studying. There’s a sizeable café inside the bookstore for sitting. The Chinese books are excellent. English books not great. But it’s a great place to hang out, and would make a great day out with a trip to the West Bund.
Stylish, cozy and super relaxing. This is the second bookstore of a chain named Nice To Meet You that is affiliated with Xingfu Li, the real estate development Panyu Lu. The bookstore is located on the ground floor of the 96-year-old Blackstone Apartments. The place feels like a maze: a French-style archway with mosaic titles opens towards narrower hallways, leading into individual chambers which break the books into different sections. They carry a wide range of books in Chinese literature, history, design, and cooking, plus a unique stock of books on music, music sheets, and many vinyl records English books are selections from Penguin and Macmillan Collectors Library, some popular fiction and pieces on art and architecture. Most of the books here are free for leafing through.
The nicest-looking Xinhua bookstore there is, attached to the Pearl Art Museum out in Minhang. It was designed by Japanese architect Tado Ando. The shop is airy, unlike many heavy-feeling bookstores. The English-language selection is small but there's a wide range Chinese literature, pop fiction, cooking, business management and quite a lot of picture books for children.
This is the famous poetry-themed bookstore inside the 85-year-old St. Nicolas Orthodox Church. Its main hall is sleek and modern but doesn’t detract from the lofty beauty of the church. They have lots of rare Chinese poetry books and a section (about 20% of the store) for English-language books selected by the London Review. Great, serene café in the back overlooking the street.
ZiWU’s art books reach up the ceiling of its three-floor loft. More than a bookstore — kind of a mixed-use space for art and photography — the shop also carries vinyl records and a number of English fashion and lifestyle magazines. The second floor has a small photography exhibit; third floor is an art gallery. ZiWU operates like a gallery too: there is a 50rmb entry fee, though it includes a coffee or discount on book purchases. Good for lounging on a weekend afternoon.