TAIPEI (The China Post) — Most people don’t know but Eslite Dunnan Bookstore, which is open 24/7 since 1990, will close on May 31.
As the first bookstore in the world opened 24/7, the Dunnan store was praised by CNN as one of the “coolest bookstores in the world.” It has since become one of the cultural landmarks of Taiwan.
The question now is which location will become the next 24/7 bookstore? Each store has already its supporters so the company has launched an online campaign to decide which store is the most suitable.
Eslite said that five candidates are on the list: Eslite Xinyi store, Eslite Spectrum Songyan Store, Eslite Spectrum Nanxi, Eslite Spectrum Park Lane by CMP Store and Eslite NTU Store.
Fans can vote for their favorite store which can also interact with voters online. Eslite will announce the winning location on April 23.
Among the five candidates, Xinyi is said to have many handsome and beautiful customers. It’s the favorite so far.
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Ahead of the closing, The China Post interviewed Seer-Song Tseng, director of the Public Affairs Division and Lynn Chang, senior director of the Channel Business Group and invited them to share on how Elite Bookstore has become the pride of Taiwan.
In 1989, the first Eslite bookstore was located on the Ren’Ai Roundabout in Taipei. In 1995, the bookstore was relocated to the present address. After announcing its plans to move to the new location, Eslite Bookstore received feedback from readers, among which someone wrote: “Why can’t we have a bookstore that runs 24/7.”
As of Dec. 31, 2019, the Eslite Dunnan bookstore had been open for over 186,000 hours without closing, setting a world record for bookstores. Over the past 30 years, Eslite has gradually developed into a comprehensive cultural space with a performance hall, movie theaters, and galleries.
Meanwhile, it has pursued a hybrid business model — combining traditional bookstores and shopping malls — that has made local brands in Taiwan come under the spotlight. Still, the core focus is on promoting reading, that would never change.
Let’s discover how did the Eslite Bookstore attract thousands of tourists to stop by to enjoy the unique “Eslite” reading culture in Taiwan’s society.
A Soul Searching Bookstore
“A bookstore is a place for readers to soul-search,” Tseng said when speaking of Robert Wu’s (founder of Taiwan’s Eslite Bookstores)concept management.
Years ago, Wu had fallen seriously ill and had undergone heart surgery. During his recovery process, he read lots of books, which became the rudimentary concept of the Eslite Bookstores.
Wu expressed hopes that others like him could find their own books that speak to each individuals’ spirits.
“Robert Wu’s business model baffled everyone and anyone who had gone to business school,” Tseng said.
Different from other owners, Wu never made a decision based on financial gain. Instead, he thought of what others would need to decide the direction of management.
In 1989, Dunnan Eslite Bookstore founded its first gallery. This led Wu to think about what should be made available in the artistic space. The idea evolved into the Eslite music, performance area, and movie theaters today.
With this unique business, Robert Wu was coined “the most baffling founder to business school majors”.
(The second part of this interview will be published soon)