While in our latitudes, the book business is increasingly suffering from competition from the mail order business, the respective business appears to be booming in China. At least this is the impression given by the Zhongshuge bookstore chain, which presents itself with sales outlets as if they were designed by the famous Dutch painter E.C. Escher. There are huge, confusing labyrinths of stairs, mirrored ceilings and illuminated wall shelves, packed full of books.

Zhongshuge in Chongqing, China

The branch in Chongqing, for example, looks like a private study to the visitors. At one corner of the lampshade-shaped lobby is a quiet reading corridor with bookshelves that extend across the entire aisle. The bookshelves are reflected on the floor, forming an endless tunnel of books that leads deeper into the room and ultimately to even more knowledge.

The store presents itself like a private study, where you can browse through the books in warm light and inspiring atmosphere. At one corner of the lampshade-shaped lobby is a quiet reading corridor with backlit bookshelves that extend along a long corridor. These are reflected on the shiny floors or mirrored ceilings. At one point a seemingly endless tunnel of bookshelves invites visitors to penetrate even deeper into the rooms of the bookshop.

The Zhongshuge bookshops see themselves as a place where books can be read and bought, but also as a meeting place for book lovers.

You can read and see more about the Chongqing Zhongshuge bookshop here.

A similar Project was opened by Zhongshuge also in Yangzhou.

Yangzhou Zhongshuge; Photography by Shao Feng

The YJY Maike Centre Flagship Store in Xi’an, China

The YJY Meike bookstore and business complex is located in Xi’an, a city with a rich cultural past. Many people are certainly familiar with the World Heritage Site of the Terracotta Army, which has become a major tourist attraction.

The bookshop sees itself as a library and gallery, i.e. a place to explore, learn and meet with friends. The various interconnected rooms are reminiscent of Japanese or Chinese palaces. On the walls of the shop hang original works of art that were commissioned to Chinese artists for this purpose. In this way, the store honours China’s eventful history and has itself become a cultural milestone. The shop receives an average of around 5,000 visitors a day; on weekends the number can be as high as 20,000.

YJY Maike Center Flagship Store, Photographer: Nacasa&Partners

More pictures of this bookstore in Xi’an you can find here.

Selexyz Dominicaner in Maastricht, Holland

This concept of flagship bookstores does not yet seem to have really caught on in Europe. In the Dutch city of Maastricht, however, there is an example that more than just comes close to the Chinese models. The bookstore is located in a 13th century Dominican church and was spectacularly converted for this purpose by the architecture firm Merkx + Girod.

Selexyz Dominicaner Maastricht; Photo: Merkx + Girod

The project creates a brilliant connection between the opposing aesthetics. The space retains the architectural structure and definitive design features of the church, while creating a contemporary atmosphere of a modern bookshop.

More information and pictures of the project can be found here. (in Dutch)