ustomers at Light Space use a touch screen interface to find books on Monday. (Photo: Qi Xijia/GT)
New Xinhua bookstore in Shanghai turns to design by famous Japanese architect Tadao Ando to attract young readers
The first thing that pops into most people's minds when talking about China's Xinhua bookstores is the chain's red sign with the Chinese characters Xin Hua Shu Dian (Xinhua bookstore) in white. However, a newly opened Xinhua bookstore in Shanghai is looking to make a break from tradition with a new look.
The white and red logo has been replaced by a transparent glass logo in a bid to transform the location from a tradition bookstore to a new type of multifunctional outlet that focuses on customer experience, recreation, education and coffee culture.
Founded in 1937 in Yan'an, Northwest China's Shaanxi Province, the Xinhua bookstore was once the largest State-run publisher in China. However, the rise of e-commerce has heavily impacted the chain. Now, the old publishing giant is looking to keep up with the changing times with a store designed by award-winning Japanese architect Tadao Ando.
Officially opened on December 16 2017 in Aegean Place, a mall in Shanghai's Minhang district, the new branch is named Light Space.
Just as the name Light Space indicates, light plays an important role in the design of the new bookstore.
Walking into the store one is first greeted by cream-colored wooden bookshelves. A square hollow in the middle of the shelves lets light from across the room through, while also creating a window-like space through which readers can interact with each other.
"This design allows readers to come across each other and come across books they didn't know about before. We call this the 'allure of a bookstore,'" Chen Yi, vice general manager of the department of Culture and Arts at the Shanghai Xinhua Distribution Group and manager of the Light Space bookstore told the Global Times on Monday.
Another highlight of the store's design is that it incorporates a gallery for displaying art, creating a multi-layered reading experience for readers.
"You could say it is a bookstore that has a gallery or a gallery that has a bookstore," said Chen.
Connecting the bookstore on the 7th floor and the gallery on the 8th floor is a space specially designed by Ando. After walking through the gallery, customers can take a spiral staircase downstairs where they will find books related to the exhibition they just attended.
"While the Xinhua bookstore used to give off a kind of crowded, messy feeling, this bookstore looks quite creative and organized. It makes you want to put your phone down and submerge oneself in reading," one customer, Shi Meijuan, 55, told the Global Times.
Focus on reading
While many other retail bookstores also try to bring in readers by providing an enticing atmosphere, what sets Light Space apart from other stores is its dedication to reading.
"Our slogan is 'keep reading, keep leading,'" said Chen, adding that the displays for books occupy more than 70 percent of floor space in the 1,700-square-meter bookstore.
She noted that unlike other renovated bookstores, Light Space doesn't try to attract readers with stationary, creative cultural products or a cafe but instead relies on its carefully crafted selection of books, cutting-edge technology and well-trained "book recommendation specialists."
So far the bookstore boasts 30,000 types of books that were first shorted-listed through the use of big data and then narrowed down by scholars in its readers' club. The selection focuses mainly on literature, children's books and older editions of books.