It is common knowledge for the Beijing locals that, if you want to buy books, go for the array of bookstores converging in the Haidian area(海淀區) , where all the prominent universities are located, such as Qinghua University or Beijing University.
Since May 2007, the bookstore area called Book City (圖書城) has been given a facelift by the authorities, with grey as the standardized color of the area, and allowing only bookstores or culture related businesses in operation. Some new bookstores have moved in.
Though the color of the City is drab, it now boasts hosting some of the “vanguard” bookstores in China, such as the reputedly first and only 24 hour bookstore Guang He Zuo Yong (photosynthesis, 光合作用), focusing on lifestyle books with coffee shop attached, and the giant Di San Ji (The Third Pole﹐第三極) bookstore, which claims to be the biggest bookstore in the world with the widest choice of books. I am not sure its claim is valid but the bookstore has become a new force in Beijing’s book industry, with its 20,000 sq meters of floor areas and 300,000 books on offer. The Beijing University is just around its corner.
In the Book City, you can also find secondhand and specialty bookstores, galleries, stationery shops, and so on.
Foreign visitors may think the Book City offers Chinese books only and hence irrelevant to them. Wrong. You can also find English books, Japanese books and Korean books here. In the Di San Ji bookstore, for instance, one area is devoted to second hand foreign language books, including some real bargain second hand English books.