• Feng Tang's translation of Rabindranath Tagore’s “Stray Birds” was removed from bookstores.

Feng Tang's translation of Rabindranath Tagore’s “Stray Birds” was removed from bookstores. (Photo : Wikimedia)

Eslite Bookstore, one of the largest retail bookstore chains in Taiwan, has opened its first mainland branch in Suzhou, Jiangsu Province, fighting the trend of closing physical bookstores.

The new Eslite in Suzhou is not only a bookstore but also a shopping complex with houses and apartments that the company co-developed with Mitsubishi Estate. The prices of the houses range from around 35,000 yuan per square meter to 75,000 yuan per square meter.

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The bookstore, which covers around 15,000 square meters, makes up less than a fourth of the total 56,000 square meters available on the four floors of the structure.

The Eslite in Suzhou is designed by Taiwanese architect Kris Yao.

Unlike the store in Taipei, the Suzhou branch will not be open for 24 hours a day.

The bookstore has around 100,000 to 150,000 titles in simplified Chinese, as well as 50,000 imported titles. The books are divided into five sections, namely, tourism, lifestyle, art, humanities and Western literature.

In the lifestyle section, a real kitchen is located beside the culinary books. There are also culinary activities at the store on a weekly basis.

Readers may also buy tea sets beside tea-related books.

The rest of the building has stores that sell accessories, clothing and cultural and creative products. There are also restaurants.

"Please don't simplify physical bookstores. Please don't see Eslite simply as a bookstore," said Wu Qing-you, Eslite's founder.

Wu opened the first Eslite Bookstore in Taipei in 1989, focusing on art and humanities books. Now the stores also have galleries and spaces for other art forms.

Eslite is also set to open a store in Shanghai in March 2016 and another in Shenzhen in 2018.