Bookstore or “Cultural Hub”

I’ve been reading about the Eslite bookstore in Hong Kong. Pretty fascinating. It spans three floors in the popular Causeway Bay shopping center, is booming, and to call it a bookstore doesn’t do it justice. Here’s a quote from the Sydney Morning Herald:

“Eslite isn’t another Dymocks or Borders. In fact it cagily avoids badging itself as a bookstore at all, referring to itself instead as a “cultural hub”. The self-reference is appropriate. Eslite does have a massive book offering but it also sports a tearoom, coffee bar, wine shop, an extensive selection of designer stationery, wellness products, jewellery, leather goods, music and gifts.”

I’m intrigued. The rest of the article goes on to suggest that Eslite is Asia’s response to Amazon’s monopoly hold on books and the doomsday predictions about the future of the industry. Reporter Michael Baker seems convinced that Eslite is the way forward. I love the idea of reclaiming the book space as a “cultural center” and filling that space with all aspects of culture, not just books. I wonder if this would ever work in the US (or UK?). Would it not just go the route of other big box bookstores?

I like to think we could pull it off. Basically, I want to live here. What do you think?

(Photos from Book Mania!South China Morning Post, Jake Wang, and HipHongKong)

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2 comments
  1. Selvinas said:

    I liked Eslite when I visited it in Tainan two years ago. There were so many different kinds of books, even ones on very unusual topics or obscure languages. But I think Eslite will not work in Europe. Think we already lost the bookculture.
    But in Asia I think it still exists, I saw many people reading books there or visiting cafe’s especially made for reading books. It’s an interesting concept.

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