Taiwan's longest underground book street opens in Taipei

2017/08/07 22:36:32 fontsize-small fontsize-default fontsize-big
Taiwan's longest underground book street opens in Taipei

Taipei, Aug. 7 (CNA) The popular Eslite Bookstore chain officially opened Taiwan's longest underground book street in Taipei on Monday, creating what the city hopes will become a new tourist attraction.

The 261-meter-long book street is located in an underground walkway between the Taipei Metro Zhongshan Station and Shuanglian Station. It is named R79 Eslite Underground because it is close to exits R7 and R9 of the underground corridor.

The walkway used to be part of the Zhongshan Metro Mall, an underground shopping mall that sells clothes, food, discounted books and other products, but Eslite won a bid in March to transform a section of it into a book street.

The underground complex features more than 60,000 book titles on a wide variety of topics and also includes shops that sell cultural and creative products, phonograph records, stationery, food and coffee.

(children's book section)

(Ri Xing Type Foundry showcases letterpress printing in the stationery store)

(discounted English and Japanese-language books)

Taipei Mayor Ko Wen-je (柯文哲), who attended the opening ceremony, said the transformation of the underground walkway was a success, and he predicted that the book street, which opened ahead of the 2017 Summer Universiade in Taipei, will become a new scenic spot for travelers visiting the city.

Ko also praised Robert C.Y. Wu (吳清友), the late founder and chairman of Eslite Corp. who died of heart disease last month, as a man who "changed the definition of bookstores in Taiwan."

"He brought humanities, art and creativity into people's lives," Ko said, noting that the book street was Wu's last project.

Wu's daughter Mercy Wu (吳旻潔), who has taken over as Eslite's chairwoman, said her father's wish was that commuters who used to spend five minutes walking the corridor will stay for half an hour or an hour or even pay special visits to the book street.

"The beauty of the Zhongshan underground book street is that it creates a lot of opportunities for people to run into books," she said. "We hope to create these chance meetings not only in Taipei, but in various public spaces around Taiwan."

(Taipei Mayor Ko Wen-je (柯文哲, second left) and Mercy Wu (吳旻潔, second right)

Eslite will pay a rent to Taipei Rapid Transit Corp. for the space, which the metro company estimates will increase its earnings by over NT$10 million a year from when the space was under a previous operator, which suffered annual losses.

Maru Yuan, who works in the publishing industry and who visited the book street on Monday, said in an age of fewer bookstores, the book street is a way to bring ordinary people closer to books.

"It may be crowded outside, but inside it is a paradise for reading," she said.

(photo exhibit along the book street)

(a shop that sells cultural and creative products)

(food and drink shop)

(By Christie Chen)

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