Have you ever wondered what it would be like to wander down an underground street devoted entirely to books? Probably not, but nevertheless that’s precisely what you can do at the Eslite Underground Book Street, here in Taipei. Yes, Taiwan’s largest chain of bookstores has now added an underground street to its flagship Xinyi store and its 24-hour Dunhua store.
Eslite’s latest store takes up an entire section of the underground shopping mall that runs along the MRT line from Taipei Main Station to Shuanglian MRT Station. It’s accessed either from the MRT itself or Zhongshan Station entrance/exit number 4.
Here, you’ll find not only books but a small puzzle store, a music store with CDs and audio equipment, a gift shop with everything from household items to shoes, and a jewelry store. There’s also a café where book lovers can sit and enjoy a read in total peace and quiet. However the café is across the street from the bookstore so if you want to read there you’ll have to buy your book first.
In the book store itself you’ll find a huge range of books available in both Chinese and English. For the most part, sections are separated by an archway giving the place a vintage/library kind of feeling. Although the street is incredibly quiet, the store is closed in from the outside. There are also plenty of places where they you can read a few pages of your book before you decide to buy.
In the middle of the street there’s an exhibition area where local photographers or artists can exhibit their work. It’s a wide open space where commuters from the MRT can take a few moments from their busy day to relax and enjoy some local art or simply sit down and take five.
The best thing about this incredible underground book street is the calm. Above ground you’re in one of the busiest areas of the city with scooters and cars lining the streets all day, every day. But just a few steps below the surface, you’re transported to an oasis of tranquility in this one-of-a-kind book shopping experience. And with its location right by Taipei Main Station at Zhongshan MRT station, it’s an easy place for tourists to find and well worth a quick visit.