And we're like, "hey, we're just a website. You have missed it forever."
This is where you can find some good imported magazines.
Shanghai Book Traders Used Books
Hours: Daily: 9am–7.30pm
Selection & Vibe: Shanghai Book Traders does not have the latest magazines, but they have stacks and stacks of cheap copies of The Economist, Harvard Business Review, People, Men's Health, lots of Japanese magazines, and a ton of used books. The experience is similar to digging for records, and the bossman has a lot of knowledge and philosophy to drop, if you speak Chinese. They absolutely will not bargain, no matter how outdated or irrelevant the book or magazine is. Like, they won't drop the price on a Photoshop 2.0 user guide. This is also owned by the bigger Foreign Language Bookstore around the corner, which we'll cover below.
Word on the street is that bossman is retiring soon, and prices will drop even lower before the store closes.
Pricing: Cheap. Economist is around 10rmb (again, not the latest).
Yanlord Garden's (Pudong) Convenience Store
Hours: Daily: 10am–11pm
Selection & Vibe: Dongchang Lu is one of the coolest and most underrated streets in all of Shanghai. If you're down there eating some biang biang mian or getting a massage at the place with the manga library (not giving that up), wander around Yanlord Gardens and hit up their convenience store.
This place has one of the widest selections of new foreign magazines we've seen anywhere in Shanghai. From Wired, The Atlantic, and Car & Driver to Oprah's mag ("O") and French and German current events rags, they've got it. We've occasional seen a New Yorker in there, but no Nintendo Power.
Pricing: Fair. Most new magazines run 40-60rmb. They also have some good sales on wine in here.
The Mix Place
Hours: Daily: 10am–10pm
Selection & Vibe: The newest shop in this roundup, The Mix place has a lot of hard-to-find art, film, and photography magazines and books, as well as Wired, The London Review, Time, The New Yorker, The Happy Reader, Esquire. Place is popular with hip young thangs. They've got a coffee shop, too, so you can post up, read, and people watch.
Pricing: Pricey. You're looking at 100-200rmb for a lot of their mags. Basically, they take the cover price and then double it. Or worse.
Hours: Daily: 10am–1am
Selection & Vibe: Big Movie is the DVD shop next to the Nike Lab on Xinle Lu. Their magazine selection is small but fairly comprehensive and well-priced. They almost always have Time, National Geographic, and some big French and German mags on hand. Occasionally you can find some better material, too... Nice staff here.
Pricing: Real fair. Mags are generally 20-40rmb, but people tend to snap up the good ones fast.
Hours: Daily: 1pm–8pm
Selection & Vibe: Hip. Beijing-based design studio Triple Major made the move to Shanghai in 2012. The main draw is the fashion -- quirky pieces by international designers, shoes, and accessories -- but they also stock several hard-to-find indie mags.
Pricing: Not cheap.
Hours: Daily: 10am–10pm
Selection & Vibe: Hey boo... This place is a direct outlet of China National Publications Import & Export Corporation (CNPIEC), so they get a large variety of mainstream fashion, lifestyle, entertainment magazines like magazines Esquire, Glassbook, Wallpaper, and Vanity Fair. They update their selection almost daily.
Pricing: Ummm...airport prices.
Hours: Daily: 10am–10pm
Selection & Vibe: Shopping mall vibes. They've got coffee and tables. Good selections for the mature office lady crowd.
Pricing: Expensive. Around 80rmb.
10 Corso Como
Hours: Mon-Fri: 8am-10.30pm, Sat-Sun: 10am–10pm
Selection & Vibe: Mostly design and fashion magazines on the first floor, like Numero, Wallpaper, Dazed. Place is upscale, quiet, and pretty much empty most of the time.
Pricing: Expensive. Prepare to get taxed.
Shanghai Foreign Language Book Stores
Hours: Daily: 10am–6.30pm
Selection & Vibe: You probably know this one. This is the closest spot you'll find to whatever mega bookstore you know from your home country. The entire building is dedicated to English-language books, so they've got everything from business texts, classics, romance novels and cookbooks to current bestsellers, test prep books, teen fiction, magazines, and textbooks.
The magazine selection is just OKAY, unless you're really into gossip rags and Japanese magazines. They more than make up for that with their third floor selection of art books though.
Pricing: Not cheap and sometimes frustrating.
Garden Books (The Portman)
Hours: Daily, 10am–10pm
Selection & Vibe: Garden Books in The Portman has a bigger magazine selection than their shop on Changle Lu. Mostly mainstream fashion, lifestyle, and design mags. Still, not a bad place to browse if you're already in Jing'an.
Pricing: 50-80rmb for most.
Hours: Weekends, by appointment only: 10am–7pm
Selection & Vibe: Apparently this place has tons of indie magazines, but they were closed when we went. We've heard they might close for good soon. They will show their collection by appointment, and their WeChat ID is SamePaper. You can try to holler at them.
Pricing: In general, expect to pay about 50% more than the cover price of a magazine. So, not as cheap as Amazon, and not as expensive as that Mix place listed above.
How imported English magazines like Wired, The New Yorker, and The Atlantic reach Shanghai's DVD shops and convenience stores is a mystery. If you try to make a request for say, Nintendo Power, the shopkeep will say, "oh, we don't bring the magazines in. Someone else does."
Maybe they get collected from airplanes, or five-star hotels...
Perhaps they're high quality fakes...
We honestly don't know. If you've got more spots, please throw 'em in the comments section.