Despite a thriving English speaking expat community, Qingdao has very few bookshops to interest them. While little libraries of books left by departing expats can sometimes be found in the international schools or coffee shops, dedicated bookshops servicing English readers are, regrettably, thin on the ground. But before you invest in that Kindle and console yourself with a life of e-books, take the time to familiarise yourself with the bookshops we do have.
Photo: Ian Wilson
Book Cityor Xinhua Bookstore 新华书店View In Map
By far the biggest on offer, this ‘City’ offers much more than books, with sections offering musical instruments, sports equipment, DVDs, stationery and arts and crafts adorning their many floors. Despite its English name, their dedicated English language section is fairly small and well-hidden on the top floor. It boasts a small, peculiar mix of everything, including sci-fi, classics and the odd cookbook. Scour some nearby shelves and you’ll find some more classics in dual languages - English and Chinese - as is also the case amongst the children’s books. Book City is also worth a look for textbooks on learning Chinese, which are again in a different part of the store. If this is your interest, note that the CDs, which are often attached to these textbooks, are removed and stored on the ground floor, so be sure to remember to collect them before you leave. Although an enormous store on first impression, Book City’s English language book selection is fairly limited.
Add: 67 Xianggang Zhonglu, Shinan District, Fushan Bay Area (Central Qingdao)
Tel: 0532 8587 5440
Getting there: On the corner of Xianggang Zhonglu and Yanerdao Lu
Book Nook 新西华外文书店
A fuller selection can be found at The Book Nook, in the Creative 100 Park on NanJing Lu, again in the city centre. This dedicated English language bookshop offers a great mix of travel guides and cookbooks, and thousands of up-to-date fiction, non-fiction and biographies in a wide selection with an American slant, presumably influenced by the American manager. Servicing the schools in Qingdao, The Book Nook also provides student textbooks and books for infants and children. They offer a welcoming, coffee shop environment in which to browse the shelves and leaf through the books. Cardboard boxes full of new deliveries often litter the floor, and staff will process orders for books they don’t have, though delivery can take time. Ever-aiming to further embed itself in the expat community, The Book Nook provides book clubs, film nights, library services, English corners and other activities to get people involved in speaking and – more importantly – reading in English.
Beyond its city centre location, The Book Nook has recently opened a satellite store within the flagship SPR Coffee House at Shilaoren beach, where they stock a sample of the titles found in their bigger store. This brings English language books to another part of town, offering the many expats in Shilaoren and beyond – and those spending the day on the beach – access to some English reading material for themselves and their kids. They also provide weekly storytelling at this venue, for smaller children.
The Book NookView In Map
Add: Creative 100 Industry Park, Suite #22, 100 Nanjing Lu, Shinan District, Fushan Bay Area (Central Qingdao)
Tel: 0532 8097 1935
Getting there: Take Bus No. 33 to Ningxia Lu Stop and walk about 100 meters
The Book Nook at SPR青岛市新西华外文书店（弄海园店）View In Map
Add: SPR ‘White House’ Coffee Shop, Surf Plaza, 316 Xianggang Dong Lu Shilaoren Beach, Laoshan District, Qingdao
Tel: 0532 8889 4377
Getting there: Take Bus No. 104, 301, 304, 313 and 321 to Qinling Lu Stop and walk about 100 meters
Books and Coffee Shop
Still within Creative 100, is the Books and Coffee Shop. A cosy little coffee shop selling books and trinkets, they have six shelves of second hand, English language books with no connection or order to them other than that they are English language. At the time of visiting, there were biographies of Jim Carrey and Paris Hilton, The Hound of the Baskervilles, a hardback Ivana Trump novel and a Guide to Beijing among their ramshackle collection. While not worth the trip on its own if you’re shopping for English books, it might be worth a few minutes of your time if you’re in the nearby Book Nook anyway, in case you get lucky and find something you like.
Elsewhere across Qingdao, although bookshops sometimes have English names on signs outside, inside you can expect to find nothing but the classics, if that. So if Dickens, Shakespeare and Machiavelli aren’t your thing, forget it. In several bookshops in the major shopping malls, you might stumble across some children’s books in both English and Chinese, but again, little else in English. Perhaps as the community grows, we may see more English language bookshops appear in Qingdao, but for now the choice is very limited. Still, there’s always Amazon.
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Keywords: where to buy books Qingdao English language books Qingdao Qingdao bookstores
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