Small shop with large selection of Chinese fiction and non-fiction, Chinese-language study materials and English, French and German fiction and non-fiction books
I climb up to the 2nd floor to find the 1st volume of Game of Thrones. I'm followed by one of their employee to check I don't steal anything (Ok, I can understand that they've been people stealing books and that's a problem for them, but you don't feel fine about having someone suspecting you being a thief when you come to buy a book).
I find the 4 volume set and I ask if they have the 1st volume alone. The answer is: "No, you'll have to buy the 4 books". I ask how much is it? The answer is: "the price is on the box". 280RMB. It's seems a bit expensive especially because I had only planned to buy one book originally but hey, I really want it! I get down (still followed) to buy the set and I ask for a plastic bag so I can carry the whole thing. The answer: "It's 2RMB", "I just bought a 280RMB set, could you just give me one?", "No." I bought my set, I left and I swear I'll never come back again. F*** EM next time I'll go on Taobao!
The selection here was disappointing; I came looking for reading material and didn't find anything that inspired me to buy. While that was partly due to the prices of new books (which, admittedly, seem on par with international bookstores in other Chinese cities), I wasn't intrigued at all by the secondhand shelf. Not only was it suffering a hostile takeover by an army of Danielle Steele novels (which I suppose is more the fault of the shop's customers than the shop itself), but also the used books are still 40 to 60 RMB, which is ... well, more than I want to pay for a used book I don't really want to read in the first place. In total, although it's a standalone shop, the selection of foreign-language books seems on par with the foreign-language sections found in larger chain shops like Xinhua around the country. In the end the only thing I bought was a China Daily for 1.5 RMB.
I'm a big fan of book stores, but I liked this one a lot, though a lot of that is probably that it's one of two places with English-language books that I'm aware of in Kunming (the other one is Chapter One). It has probably a few hundred English titles, plus lots of Lonely Planets. Most of the stuff is pretty expensive, though: other than the 'classics,'which you can get for 30-40 kuai, most of the books I've looked at are at least 100 or so. That's what they cost back home, and they're here, but it still feels like a lot.