In its heyday after World War II, Guling Street (牯嶺街) in Taipei’s Zhongzheng District (中正) was home to more than 200 second-hand bookshops. Their fortunes flourished on the backs of departing Japanese settlers, who left behind books, magazines and writing instruments that saw a lively trade.
Business has since fallen on hard times, with technological developments and changing consumer tastes leaving booksellers out in the cold.
But next weekend, some of the neighborhood’s former vigor will return at the annual Guling Street Books and Creative Bazaar. Now in its 19th year, it will see more than 100 independent publishers, second-hand booksellers and artisans from around the country set up shop along the historic street.
Photos courtesy of Wu Hsin-ying
Some vendors to look out for are art and design publishing house Garden City (田園城市) and Taichung-based Honichi (本日製作社), an antiques collector and cultural group promoting exchanges between Taiwan and Japan.
The new generation of booksellers will stand shoulder-to-shoulder with stalwarts like Guling Street’s oldest existing bookshop, Song Lin Bookstore (松林書局), which opened in 1951.
Owner Tsai Ching-hui (蔡鏡輝), son of the original founder, has become a figurehead for the street, overseeing a cavern of books precariously stacked ceiling-high.
Mandarin-language talks on literature and the publishing business will take place every hour from noon to 7pm tomorrow and 10am to 3pm on Sunday. Topics include political cartoons, social activist zines produced in Hong Kong and a local rainforest research and documentation project.
Visitors who do not read Chinese can also expect many stalls selling handmade stationery and crafts — perfect for Christmas — as well as games and activities for the children.
■ Tomorrow, 10am to 8pm and Sunday, 10am to 5pm at Guling Street, Taipei City (台北市牯嶺街)
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