It’s hard to say how popular books really are in China. Shanghai has many stores, on- and offline, and even an English book (Siddhartha) was delivered within 10 hours. But so too are there millions of people (24 million in Shanghai), so it’s hard to say if book reading is really popular. Even Suzhou has lots of book stores, but many people too (11 million people).
Maybe the more interesting point is that many Western literature is on sale, either in English or translated into Mandarin — from Shakespeare to Ann Patchett and James Salter. And most Western people can’t name a single Chinese author (apart from Sun Tzu, ok). But Chinese are a lot more open to the West than vice versa. The same for movies and songs and whatnot.
These photos are of Sky Book (天书书店), a beautiful bookstore in Suzhou. Some people come for books, some to take photos, and some like me come for both.