Hundreds of thousands of books pack into a hectic five floors at this Xidan behemoth – anything from the latest lit, political thought and calligraphy to what looks like every textbook ever printed in China. Plenty of people around reading them, too.
Fortunately, the foreign imports section on level two is a relative oasis of calm, and has a decent selection of, largely, well-priced English-language reading materials. A row of fiction features primarily popular, if not fully current, best-sellers or novels recently adapted into hit movies, alongside a good number of Vintage and Penguin Classics. A very small range of fictions in French, Spanish and German are available, too.
Non-fiction supply isn‘t necessarily deep or up-to-the-minute, but is broad enough; the latest editions of several imported magazines, such as National Geographic (40RMB), are well stocked, while travel guides, including the full Lonely Planet line, are plentiful but expensive. On the third floor, you’ll find any and every Chinese-language learning material.