The Disappearance of
Brick-and-mortar Bookstores

I recorded the story of the last night before the disappearance of the Old Bookworm Bookstore in Beijing.

In 2019, I worked as a reporter in Beijing, when Old Bookworm Bookstore announced that it would suspend business on November 5th, 2019, due to failure to renew the lease.

The Old Bookworm Bookstore has been operating in courtyard 4, Nan Sanlitun, Beijing since 2005. It is hard to imagine such a bookstore hidden in Sanlitun, the most imaginative nightlife in Beijing. Over the past 14 years, it has become a reception hall for Chinese and foreign book lovers. Every time you come, you can find various Chinese and foreign books in different fields.

It seemed like an ordinary day to go to the Bookworm bookshop. People studied, worked and talked as usual, but something happened. That was the last day to exist for this bookshop. People cannot see each other in there. Old Bookworm was a community of readers from China and all over the world. When the announcement was published, the connection was disappearing. People had music concerts in that night to memory the bookshop. A professor from music school took part in this performance and told me when did he start reading foreign books. He has the opportunity to study abroad as a visiting professor in Russia.That was a good start, which opened a window for him to look at the world from various views. He hope the Old Bookworm could survive. This place liked a window for people who didn’t have opportunities to study abroad to know the world and met people who come from different countries, but unfortunately this place disappeared.

The light on that day was bright as usual. Especially the lanterns seems brighter than usual. Lanterns were traditional Chinese decorations. When have significant holiday or ritual ceremony, people usually have lanterns in the ancient time of China. The last open day of Old Bookworm was a significant day in the history of the bookstore.

I chose a book to read randomly as usual. This coincidence with the book always gave me an opportunity to know a new field, like I met some people here. They came from various industries. I was a reporter at that time. I chase big news in the technology industry and hope to have break news every day. I like an eagle to seek for any clue of the market and life. Even I came here is also to meet some people and talk to them about their life and work. I regard here as a place to mix life and work. The time in here was so quickly. I just read several pages of a book I picked up randomly. The owner of the bookstore told me it was almost 8:00 pm and they have to prepare the ending event. I brought some fruit called Jujube to share with customers here.

Then I went to the second floor. There was a rooftop and people usually have a drink with their friends. There was nobody in that day, just a bottle of empty beer and an empty cup left in the table. Some customers had prepared to go and said goodbye to the bookworm.

The third floor also was a good place to talk with friends and meet new friends. It was empty on that day. People cannot meet new friends here anymore. Look down the second floor. There was just a brown door lonely. No people will come in and out. Everything was saying goodbye to the once glorious days. Goodbye Bookworm. Hope to see you in a new place as soon as possible.

Don't stop reading is a project I'm doing now. Combined with my previous experience as a reporter, I designed a blog, which contains some of my works as a reporter.

Made by Hannah💖 @2022. No cookies here 🍪