There are English quotes and signs throughout this shop in a mall in Hangzhou, but I’m not sure I saw any books in English. I saw bilingual editions of the Harry Potter books, and LOTS of recognizable books translated from English and other European languages. I enjoyed looking around and soaking up the quiet atmosphere of words in ink on paper.
西西弗书店 (Xīxī fú shūdiàn)
Founded in 1993, this chain of over 360 shops in 80 cities across China is named after Sisyphus in the Greek myth. The website explains:
What Sisyphus is engaged in is a continuous movement, without purpose, without success or failure, good or evil. This action seems to be ineffective, but it contains awesome power. In the sense of stoicism, and with a touch of sacrifice, we hope to be the Sisyphus of the book and culture industry.
I suppose that’s inspiring. Selling physical books in physical shops in the 21st century does seem like a thankless task, though Barnes & Noble seems to have come back from the brink.