According to a recent report in CNN, Taiwanese bookstore chain Eslite is leading a renaissance of the bricks-and-mortar bookshop on the island, by focusing above all on the social experience of browsing and reading together. The chain facilitates this not only by a totally browser-friendly posture, but also by staying open 24 hours a day in some cases, and with cafes, gift shops, cultural events, and generally every means to make the stores social and cultural hubs as well as book marts. The chain is reportedly turning a healthy profit, fueled substantially by book sales. Barnes & Noble should take note.

As a several-times visitor to the main Eslite store at Tunnan, I can testify that the formula works. The environment is comfortable and conducive to studying, working, or just plain reading; the stock is wide-ranging and multilingual. Other rhapsodic reviewers describe the place as a must-visit on every trip to Taiwan, and as the ideal social meeting place. And this is one of the branches that stays open all through the night, for true bibliophile night owls.

There are some other local factors that may also help account for the stores’ success. Although not as extreme in this respect as Japan or Hong Kong, Taiwan does suffer from similar issues of cramped and crowded accommodation, and younger generations living together with their elders. Bookstores that stay open late, or even round the clock, are an obvious escape – and a far more improving one than the gaming arcade.


  1. Of course, there is not many Traditional Chinese ebooks available. Yes, some are available on publisher’s own website with a DRM that seems not possible to be cracked and that means it forces you to use its app to read those books and one day they will disappear.

    Yes, some Traditional Chinese ebooks are available on Google, but sorry, they are only in pdf, not epub. I am not going to buy them. I am still looking for epub Traditional Chinese ebooks that I want to buy. Before that, I will buy printed books.

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