Beijing’s book selection is growing a little larger with two giants of the industry now battling it out under the same roof. Read on to find out what each has to grab your attention.
Charterhouse BooksView In Map
Charterhouse Books is a speciality English bookstore that is privately owned and operated, with two branches in Beijing and two branches in Shanghai. Charterhouse carries only English language books and boasts a large selection of children’s books, including infant board books in addition to current English fiction and non-fiction, as well as recent magazines such as People, Vogue, Rolling Stone, Parenting and others. The store has new releases in stock every month or so and carries a wide variety of books, not simply bestsellers but various releases from different genres. Charterhouse pays particular attention to its Chinese section and carries a range of China-related books, often by local authors, which are not necessarily big releases but which might be of interest to those who devour anything and everything China-related. The children’s reading area, with a low table and several beanbags in the Chaoyang store at The Place, is also nice.
The one drawback to Charterhouse books is that the books cost roughly the same as they would back home, plus a surcharge for shipping. Expect books to generally range from 100 – 200 RMB for adult paperbacks. Obscure books usually cost more, as do heavier books (presumably due to heavier shipping costs). Children’s books tend to be slightly cheaper depending on the type of book. Expect infant board books cost 60 – 80 RMB apiece.
Charterhouse books will also take orders for any book that is available on Amazon.com. If you are not able to order your own books on Amazon then this is a very good choice. Ordering books does not cost any more than buying the books in the store and usually takes 4-6 weeks for delivery.
Location: The Place Shopping Center
B1, The Place, 9 Guanghua Road (Dong Da Qiao Road), Chaoyang
Tel: 010- 6587 1328
Fax: 010- 6587 1329
Right across from Charterhouse, a brand new Xinhua bookstore has opened up. Xinhua bookstore is China’s number one bookstore chain and it stocks primarily Chinese language books of all kinds. The new Xinhua bookstore in The Place is huge, taking up nearly a third of the bottom level of the shopping centre and carries a wide variety of books, not simply Chinese books, but English language books too.
The Chinese language section of Xinhua books is divided by genre, much like a big bookstore back home such as Borders or Barnes and Noble. There are history books, political books, business books and language learning books. Anyone looking to pick up an English language textbook for private tutoring would do well to check out the extensive section of English learning resources, with popular titles like New Interchange as well as more obscure and specialized textbooks.
One major attraction of the Xinhua bookstore is the children’s books section. While Charterhouse offers many English-only kids’ books, Xinhua has many bilingual titles that contain Chinese, English, and Pinyin all in one book, and these can be great learning tools for children trying to improve their Chinese. Particularly impressive are the educational books about outer space, dinosaurs, animals and other topics. Whether your kids speak fluent Chinese or are just starting to learn, they’ll be able to benefit from the kids’ books section in Xinhua.
While the foreign language book selection in Xinhua obviously cannot rival that of Charterhouse just next door, there are some books in Xinhua that aren’t carried at Charterhouse and the prices at Xinhua are marginally cheaper for certain titles, with most books seeming to fall in the 80 - 120RMB range. Xinhua also sells boxed sets of certain books so that if you buy, say, the entire Twilight series or 4 Jodi Picoult books packaged together you will get a slightly cheaper price. So, while Xinhua’s foreign language section might not be as impressive as the entire bookstore located in the same shopping centre on the same level, it is certainly worth taking a look to see if you can find a deal or two.
Finally, Xinhua has in its favour a very large multimedia section with DVDs, CDs and software for sale. Unlike buying these things on the street, when you buy DVDs or CDs from China’s largest bookstore chain you can be sure you are buying legitimate copies and not pirated versions. While the price is more expensive than you’d pay on the street or in a shady DVD store, you can be fairly certain you’re getting what you pay for. Whether you’re opposed to piracy on principal or have just been burned one too many times, in China your best bet is to shop in official stores such as Xinhua.
With two big bookstores in not just the same shopping centre but on the same floor, no matter which language you speak or who you’re shopping for, you should be able to get all your book shopping done in one fell swoop with a visit to the basement level of The Place. Charterhouse has an extensive selection of English language books and magazines and Xinhua has a huge selection of Chinese language books, as well as kids books and DVDs and software. Even if you’re just bored and looking for a way to spend a Sunday afternoon, there are worse ways to use it than surrounded by books and media of all kinds.
Xinhua Bookstore 新华书店 View In Map
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