Whether you’re new to town, or have been here a while, you’ve probably found that finding English books in Guangzhou is a task that is easier said than done. This is especially true if the book you are looking for is a foreign book about China, in which case it might be deemed to controversial to be sold here. However, there are several excellent foreign bookstores in Guangzhou, some of them with a surprisingly diverse range, that can make for a very pleasant afternoon’s browsing.
If you want to find a specific book the first place you should check is the Tianhe Book Center. [123 Tianhe Lu, Guangzhou 广州市天河路123号] To get there take Metro Lines 1 or 2 to the Tiyu Xilu stop (体育西路站), and leave the station through exit D and you will see the book center immediately to your left. This 7 story complex houses a multitude of book and electronics shops, as well as a sporting goods store and a Yamaha Music Store in the basement, not to mention a seldom seen Apple store right next door, so it’s a great place to stop if books aren’t the only thing on your list. You’ll want to stick to the higher levels to find the English books, as the lower levels are dedicated primarily to Chinese school-books. Many of the bookstores on the 4th, 5th, and 6th floors feature large Art books in English and bilingual books about Chinese culture and cuisine that are fun if you are looking to browse. However, if you have a specific book in mind, your best bet would probably be New Page on the 4th floor, to the left of the escalator. New Page has new releases as well as classical literature, and they sport a pretty robust children’s section if you need something to keep the kids occupied. You’ll find that the prices may be a bit higher than you’d expect (in some cases close to double) but if you just have to have the book, New Page is the place to go.
Another shop that carries a wide selection of English books and magazines is Joint Publishing Co. [ B1, World Peach Plaza, 362-366, Huanshi Donglu 环市东路362-366号好世界广场B1楼]. This shop has slightly better deals than New Page, but fewer books so there is a trade off. Its great location too, because there is a Starbucks right next door as well as several other more authentic cafés down the street if you’re looking to get a start on your book right away. It’s also just across the street from the Elephant & Castle Pub. And, if you think you’ll be coming back, there are membership card opportunities that get you discounts on many of the books. (Unfortunately, Joint Publishing Co. is currently undergoing some renovations so the store will not be open until October 2009, but you can contact them at JPCGood@126.com to reserve a book.)
Xinhua Bookstore (276 Beijing Lu 北京路276号) is also a safe bet. The selection may not be quite as diverse as the previous two suggestions, but prices are better and Beijing Lu is THE place to be in Guangzhou for shopping. You may want to schedule your visit accordingly in order to avoid the crowds. Mid-day times on weekdays have generally less traffic than later afternoons and weekends, which tend to be quite packed.
If you really need a book, but just don’t have the time to go out and get it, there is a solution. The Book Depository (http://www.bookdepository.co.uk/) is a UK based book vendor that offers free shipping of books worldwide. Their database is enormous so you should be able to find just about any book you can imagine, and the books can be found at their normal store prices so this is one of the best resources you will find online. All you have to do is set up a brief account (less than five minutes) give them the shipping address and the books will be on their way.
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