The best bookshops in Shanghai

From English-language bestsellers to Chinese literature in translation, here's where to find your next favourite novel

Looking for your next pageturner? Whatever you're searching for – from Chinese literature in translation to international bestsellers and magazines to special interest titles – here are the best bookstores in the city to curl up with a brilliant book.

Before you shop, get inspired with our guide to the best Chinese books of the last century and latest author interviews.

Garden Books

Best for… A good rifle through well-packed shelves.

The go-to store for many of Shanghai’s book lovers, Garden Books offers a wide variety of contemporary literature and international bestsellers, as well as a mix of magazines and children’s books. The store often holds talks and boasts the city’s best selection of Chinese literature in translation.

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325 Changle Lu

Foreign Language Bookstore

Best for… Foreign language books (obviously).

This three-storey bookstore on historical Fuzhou Lu has a range of fiction and non-fiction, textbooks, travel guides and magazines. Prices are pretty affordable, and there’s a large range of very cheap classics. Most of the books are in English, but there’s also a selection of Japanese, French and German books.

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390 Fuzhou Lu

Shanghai Foreign Language Bookstore

Critics' pick

Best for… Unexpected bargains.

Previously known as Shanghai Book Traders Bookstore (and no relation to the Foreign Language Bookstore), this tiny shop is well worth seeking out. It’s a treasure trove for keen readers with cheap English-language magazines such as National Geographic, The Economist and Time. It also sells a broad range of secondhand books including contemporary novels, travel literature and comics. Prices tend to range from 20 to 100RMB.

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36 Shanxi Nan Lu

Mix Paper

Best for… Seeing and being seen.

Mix Paper is a slick addition to Shanghai’s book scene. Full of trendy types, the three-storey townhouse is comprised of a small café and pop-up gallery space dedicated to art and literature books and a vast collection of magazines. The first floor offers a variety of literature and international best-sellers in both Chinese and English, while the second floor homes art, design, interior decor and photography titles.

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Lane 320 Tianping Lu

Old China Hand Reading Room

Best for… Taking a step back in time.

Located on Shaoxing Lu, this reading room is decked out with classic Chinese-style chairs, desks and tables – as well as some items from the owner’s private collection. This bookstore has a carefully selected collection of locally published titles alongside a range of literature, autobiographies and magazines.

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27 Shaoxing Nan Lu

1984 Bookstore

Best for… A quiet spot for outside reading.

There is no spot that ranks higher in Shanghai’s hipster stakes than 1984. Full of Macbook-warriors and artists discussing the meaning of it all, 1984 has a carefully curated range of books, largely focusing on art, design and photography. With a garden, coffee shop, book lounge and excellent selection of bilingual literature, this is a perfect spot to while away the afternoon.

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11 Hunan Lu

Gelin Bookstore

Best for… Arty volumes in a stylish setting.

Located in the super-swanky K11 Art Mall, the achingly cool Taiwan-based Gelin Bookstore has an antique-style decor and houses an impressive range of (mostly English) art and design volumes. There’s a decent collection on the world history of arts, a selection of catalogues dedicated to important impressionist and modernist artists, architecture, design and photography volumes and a large collection of children’s books.

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300 Huaihai Nan Lu

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