'I haven't seen you in awhile!' We heard someone say to an old friend during our visit to The Bookworm earlier today. And it wasn't the last time we heard of it, except it came from the lips of different people browsing through the books at the popular expat hub, a day after the official announcement of its impending closure via its WeChat account.
And that's because The Bookworm is more than just another book haven. What started out as a small lending library in 2002 has now become an intellectual, cultural hub that has connected expats and locals alike through its many community events, mic nights, book talks, literary festivals and more, including kid-friendly activities such as the Safari Time Song sessions. That is, until possibly Monday 11.
'It is with heavy hearts that we are forced to announce the impending closure of The Bookworm Beijing after 14 wonderful years in Courtyard No. 4 off SouthSanlitun Road. Despite our best efforts, we appear to have fallen prey to the ongoing cleanup of “illegal structures”, and we have not been able to secure an extension of our lease. This is particularly disappointing given that, despite many challenges, at this time The Bookworm remains a thriving business with stronger, more diverse links to the wider Beijing community than ever before.
Given the current circumstances, we will be forced to suspend operations most probably as of Monday, November 11. At this time, you can support us by coming by and buying books, which will be heavily discounted.' (Full text here.)
What the Beijing Bookworm has been offering these many years can't be overstated, and so we paid the institution a visit to see what we could do to help. According to the visibly heartbroken general manager David Cantalupo, 'The response has been great, really the best thing would be to come and buy books. The books are all sunk, it's a sunk inventory and so if we can move books... if you appreciated [The Bookworm] over the years, please come and take some books off [The Bookworm's] hands.'
As of this writing, their WeChat article has already received more than 100,000 views and from what we saw earlier today, many have come to show their support with or without the discounted prices, which has touched the hearts of the staff at The Bookworm. As director of events, marketing and books Karen Tong shared, 'We also just have customers who come in who want to show their support and they're like, you don't have to give me a discount, because we just want to come by and show our support and we know you need the funds for relocation.'
But as Cantalupo admits, it's all still up in the air, but they're very hopeful.
Here are some ways you can help the Beijing Bookworm:
Give some of their books a homeUnfortunately, there's no book list to help you see ahead of time what books are available and what aren't. So we took a few photos to help you out in that regard:Here are some of the children's books, though there are more available in the shop. The first two photos are some of the brand new books. Buy one for 40RMB, two for 70RMB and three for 100RMB. There are math books, Chinese books, storybooks for children and more. The third and the fourth photos are some featured in past literary talks, and the last photo shows the Tales of China series, bilingual books about stories in China.Traveling soon? One of these might be helpful.These books about China are 30 percent off.The Bookworm has a selection of unique China gifts perfect for families. Buy a China jigsaw puzzle (280RMB), Chinese flash cards (30RMB/box), DIY Temple of Heaven (218RMB) or a DIY panda (78RMB), or A Child's Map of China poster (300RMB no frame; 650RMB with frame)
Creative postcards by Liuba Draws from 15RMB and up. Happy Holidays cards at 25RMB.Aside from giving their products a new home, The Bookworm also welcomes suggestions for storage space and new locations. 'We're really trying to slim down our inventory before we relocate, when that happens, and at the moment there are no details in terms of where,' shares Tong.
Join their new WeChat groupsAdd this Bookworm staff via WeChat and she will add you into the Bookworm family group chats:
The outpouring of support from the community has been very inspiring, and to this Tong shares how moved she is. 'We're really happy though that people are coming to show their love, to show their support... we are so very grateful of the Beijing community. So we're not too saddened; it's potentially a see you later.'
For members, you can get a refund
For those who have bought the membership in recent months, call the Bookworm or head on over, and they'll be happy to do a pro-rated refund.
For gifts, books or just to see the popular hub in its location one last time, head over to The Bookworm before Monday 11.