Welcome to book heaven!
Like most book nerds, I can spend hours browsing a bookstore, and this is particularly true of the branches of the Fujianese bookstore chain O2Sun. Branches can be found all over China, and it is the kind of store that is definitely more oriented towards a younger, relatively hip reader with money to spare; in short, it’s pretty 80后 (post-80s generation).
The book selection here isn’t as extensive as what you would find at a Xinhua bookstore, and if English is your thing, this is not the place to go. If you do read Chinese, O2Sun’s selection is quite well curated. Chinese literature is of course represented, but you’ll also find a good selection of popular fiction, international literature, and design books. For a long time I just kept coming back to this store because one of the displays in the Sanlitun branch was on cute apartments in Paris.
Promoting the works of Marguerite Duras.
In case you think that O2sun only carries middlebrow literature for the international hipster set, my most recent book purchase here was the Chinese translation of Confessions of a Shopaholic by Sophie Kinsella.
Like other Asian bookstore chains such as Japan’s Kinokuniya, Singapore’s Page One or Taiwan’s Eslite, O2Sun also carries an extensive selection of cute, well-designed objects for everyday life. If it ever occurred to you that you might need a USB hub that is shaped like a rotary telephone, or a notebook that features signs from various neighborhoods in Hong Kong, O2Sun is where you will find them. When in Asia, do as the locals do, and purchase something cute.
One particular strength is that they have started carrying limited edition art prints by Chinese artists in their stores. It’s quite hard to find affordable–and by affordable I mean less than 500 RMB, not less than 10,000 RMB, bless your rich little hearts–art in Beijing for decorating one’s flat, so you would not go amiss by starting here.
Like all good bookstores, O2Sun also has a coffee shop with WiFi attached. The coffee and tea are quite decent, particularly their floral teas.
Tip: Get the VIP card if you make a purchase worth over 200 RMB. Afterwards, you get a 10% discount on everything, including! cute notebooks, coffee, artwork, and teacups that smile at you. Bargain!
Update: O2Sun has closed. I’m glad I wasn’t there to witness it.