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  • Arts & Culture, Design, Tech

    [Designer Downloads]: Productivity Apps

    By Cindy Kuan 13 July 2016 4084 views

    Digital app recommendations from Shanghai's creative agency movers and shakers —here are the ones they use for boosting productivity, from handling image translations to project management.

    Asana "Asana is a really helpful project management app which works on mobile as well as on your computer browser. Managing a team based in Bangkok and Shanghai, as well as extensive travel, make this app essential to delivering projects to clients. The app allows you to assign tasks, schedule due dates, comment on tasks and organize tasks by projects, among other useful features." —Anchalika Wongwaiwisarn Managing Director, Neat Interactive Harvest "Based on our budgets and time estimates in our quotes we have to track all of the time used on each project to determine company and department profit. We use a software called Harvest to do that. Harvest not only tracks time but gives visual reports, timesheets and can manage invoicing and estimates... I did a lot of research on time tracking/productivity software but decided Harvest was best for us." —Chad Lethbridge Creative Director, Swedbrand Baidu Translate "Baidu Translate has a very cool feature that can translate an image from Chinese to English. So for example, if I can't read a sign or even a label, I can take a photo of it and it can translate it. You can actually even use your camera and it will directly translate the object for you!" —Don Yap Photographer, Don Yap Photography Wunderlist "I often forget things someone has told me about before, especially when someone tips you about an amazing holiday destination, hotel or bar to visit. This app helps me to remember anything I want to come back to in the future—over the past years, I've made lists for groceries, music to listen to, films to watch, books to read, clubs to visit, etc. It's not only helpful to remember, but also saves paper and allows you to edit your grocery lists or share them with your partner." —Florijn Steenhuisen Business Development, Bundspace Prezi "Since I discovered it, I'm totally in love with Prezi! (Prezi.com is a cloud-based presentation app). It allows you to put all your content on a single canvas—instead of creating a series of separate slides—and then you trace a path from one item to another. You can create animated presentations with a few clicks!" Abukai Expenses "A 'boring' mobile app I use a lot is Abukai Expenses which helps me to perform the mundane task of filing expense reports and reimbursements. You can take pictures of the fapiao, submit them, and receive a finished report." —Veronica Beretta Event Manager [Creative Services], MCI Group NetEase Youdao [有道云笔记] "If you are familiar with the Chinese language, then NetEase Youdao is a great app for taking notes and enhancing productivity. The handwriting experience is great and the app is password-protect for important documents. I'm actually also a fan of Adobe Reader. The app is great for reading PDFs on the go and highlighting key parts or making notes." —Ying Mu Corporate Branding Manager, Labbrand WeChat "This might seem like an obvious choice but WeChat is really my 'go-to' app to virtually communicate with my team, the media and even clients. Its group chat function is smartly designed for real-time text, voice and visual messages—all while keeping a neat record of it. I have even conducted interviews on WeChat vs. the phone as the app allows voice messages to be replayed for clarity and recorded for archive. It's a handy web and mobile app that has really changed and enhanced professional communication and productivity." —Wendy Fung Corporate Communications, Ogilvy & Mather China In case you missed it, here's our first installment of this series, which listed apps for creative inspiration. ***

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  • Education

    [CH Tips]: How to Give Fapiao as a Freelancer

    By Cindy Kuan 13 July 2016 6581 views

    CH talks to a tax law specialist to see how freelancers in China can pay tax, give fapiao to their clients and get potential tax deductions. All legit.

    Until recently, the freelancer fapiao dilemma—having to provide official invoices to clients but not having the means to register as official businesses that are eligible to issue fapiao—has been solved by third-party companies issuing fapiao on behalf of the freelancer. Some people can do this through guanxi, with friends at registered companies helping to issue additional fapiao from their own printers, while others find ethically lax companies that charge them for doing the same thing. For advice on alternative methods, CH talked to Jason Xu, General Manager at Intertrust Group in Shanghai. Xu is a certified CPA who specializes in foreign-owned enterprise taxation and expatriate taxation, as well as foreign direct investments. 1. The most straightforward method of paying taxes as a freelancer is to have the client company deduct tax directly from your payment. "A freelancer can pay tax through direct deduction, even if he or she is not employed by that company. In China, we have two main types of income related to employment of freelancers. One of them is the salary income. The other is the service income. For freelancers, it should be the service income, because they are providing services. So, the company using their services can legally withhold individual income tax from the service payment. The tax rate is the same in this instance, from 20% to 40% on service income. I think that if it’s not possible for freelancers to obtain invoice, this should be the best option to pay their income tax in China." 2. If you do this, remember to request documentation from the company that shows tax was deducted from your payment. Otherwise, you can receive a tax payment certificate at the local tax bureau. "In these instances, the income is declared as a payment to an individual, so no fapiao is needed for that. But, the freelancer should make sure to ask the company for proof of taxes paid. The company can obtain the tax payment receipt from the local tax bureau* each month. Or, you yourself can obtain a tax payment certificate (完税证明, wanshui zhengming) from the local tax bureau. When the company withheld taxes [from your payment], they filed taxes for you under your name and passport number, so they will submit the information to the local tax bureau. You just take your passport or ID card, and get them to print the receipt from the machine." 3. Otherwise, if you need to provide original fapiao, your local tax bureau can tax you directly and issue the fapiao for you. "If a fapiao is needed, then the freelancer should go to the local tax bureau to ask a tax official to issue a fapiao for him or her. The freelancer must bring the service agreement to the local tax bureau. With that, tax officials will judge what kind of taxes are to be levied, the individual income tax and VAT or business tax. Whether VAT or business tax is levied depends on the kind of services provided. Please note that if the service income is no more than 20,000rmb per month or 500rmb per payment, no VAT or business tax should be levied." 4. Freelancers are eligible for certain tax deductions. "Basically, there are two taxes involved. One is the individual income tax. This depends on the income received each month. It’s progressive, from 20% to 40%. Depending on the monthly taxable income, if your monthly taxable income is up to 20,000rmb, then the tax rate is 20%. If the income is about 50,000rmb, then the tax rate is 40%. Of course, the freelancers are entitled to a statuary deduction—800rmb each time, if the gross income is below 4,000rmb. This amount stays the same whether it’s paid on a project basis or per month. If it’s higher than that, then the deduction is 20%." 5. If you need a long-term solution and want to do things by the book, then you’ll want to look into registering as a Wholly Foreign Owned Enterprise [WFOE] or Joint Venture [JV]. "The options for obtaining fapiao are very limited for freelancers. The other way is to register as a WFOE or a JV. The WFOE or JV can raise Fapiaos. Under this option, the WOFE or JV hires or engages freelancers to provide services. The WFOE invoices the clients or customers. Of course, the WFOE will still need to pay freelancers service fees and withhold taxes from the payments." 6. Giving clients invoices issued by Hong Kong or Taiwan companies isn't a viable alternative. "If payments are made to the Hong Kong or Taiwan company, the tax procedures can be quite complicated. If payments are made to freelancers, invoices from the HK or Taiwan company will not match the payments and cannot be used for tax deduction." 7. Remember that if you plan to continue as a freelancer in China, you’ll need the Z visa. "If you want to follow the regulations strictly, then a Z visa should be applied for if you want to work in China for 3 months or more. Only a Z visa is eligible for working in China, for freelance and full-time. There are some practical difficulties, because freelancers do not have employment in China but in order to apply for a Z visa, you need to have an employment contract to show them. Some foreigners obtain X (student) visas to stay in the country legally, putting in the minimum hours as a student as they pursue professional freelance work. Others obtain a Z visa by working part-time in other foreigner-friendly jobs like English teaching posts, then doing freelance work on the side for additional income." Editor’s Note: Read more CH Tips on getting a visa for long-terms stays in China on this page. 8. Know the consequences of getting caught working without paying income taxes. "According to tax regulations, if you fail to pay taxes, then tax officials can ask you to pay a penalty in addition to the back pay in tax. The penalty ranges from 50% to 500% of the tax due. But, normally the tax official will not do that. In practice, a penalty payment of 50% is already harsh enough and is rarely administered. More often, they will just ask you to pay the interest for late payments. The interest rate is 0.05% for each day. [For those worried about visa status], tax officials do not have the right to revoke a visa. And they do not care about whether you are working in China with or without a Z visa as long as taxes are properly paid." *Editor’s Note: The website that lists the city’s tax bureau locations is all in Chinese, so here are a few in central Shanghai: 188 Hongqiao Lu, Xuhui 徐汇区虹桥路188号 Tel: 6441 8888 991 Changping Lu, Jing’an 静安区昌平路991号 Tel: 3217 4988 1827 Tianshan Lu, Changning 长宁区天山路1827号 Tel: 2220 8000 313 Xietu Lu, Huangpu 黄浦区斜土路313号 Tel: 6302 1008 80 Xiang Cheng Lu, Pudong 浦东新区向城路80号 Tel: 5058 1122 ***

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  • Worked to Death: Overtime in Shanghai

    By Cindy Kuan 13 July 2016 129176 views

    Is it possible to be worked to death in the white collar world? CH asks a medical practitioner, a lawyer, a life counselor and a former ad executive to weigh in with their professional insight.

    The recent death of a young Ogilvy and Mather employee in Beijing has sparked concerns in Chinese news media regarding the ethics of overtime work for white collar positions. The 24-year-old experienced a heart attack and died suddenly at his desk; it was later reported that he had been regularly working overtime for the entire past month, often until 11pm. While the connection between Li Yuan's OT work and death remains unproven, the stress of overworking is still a cause for serious concern and attention. CH talked to a few experts and an ad industry insider on the potential effects of high-stress overtime situations for those of us doing white collar work in China and asked: is death by overwork possible? The consensus: it's difficult to link the two, but it seems you people deserve a serious break. So, first off, what's it like working in this kind of high-pressure office environment?

     

    Vanessa* / former 4A Account Executive in Shanghai

    "It’s not just in advertising. Within creative industries, you see similar cases everywhere. I’ve heard of people passing out at their desks; I know someone whose husband passed away from a heart attack after meeting with clients. When I worked at a 4A agency, I had a lot of former colleagues who worked too much. I mean, 90 percent of them don’t even eat on time. It’s so common to forget to have lunch. I’d say that’s the biggest problem, really – not eating regular meals. So many of them had gastro-intestinal problems. I’ve even heard of someone throwing up blood while on the job. Of course, you can never really say that [the recent death at Ogilvy] was just caused by overworking. Creative people have a different kind of habit – they really like staying at the office late working, and doing some other non-work related stuff. Some people gave me the feeling that they didn’t even want to go home, like those who were sticking around to play online video games." "So it’s a bit unfair to say that longer hours at the office equals overwork and stress equals bad health. Of course there’s pressure from management, but in Shanghai, a lot of people are willing to work on weekends. Management might expect a two to three day turnaround time, but some people like the fast-paced nature, the glamour of the job." But what are the potential hazards of pushing on?

     

    Ans Hooft / Life Coach and Stress Counselor

    Ans Hooft provides professional guidance for people who are burned out or have somehow lost their way. According to Hooft: "Stress in itself is not exactly a bad thing – we actually need it and thrive on it sometimes. It’s as soon as we feel that we no longer have control, then that’s when it becomes bad. We’re lucky that our bodies give us warning signs though. If you’re overworking yourself, you might be feeling very tired, have constant headaches, a cold that doesn’t go away, trouble sleeping, spotty vision, overreacting to small things. Most of my clients are working professionals, Westerners, who tend to be working too much. Work life in Shanghai is nearly 24 hours a day; a lot of people are on and off, on and off all the time. That is unhealthy. The body needs time to recover, so relax. Realize that your body needs time to recover and go home on time. Then you’ll be fresh for the next day. Switch off your phone, do something completely different when outside of the office – sports, yoga, a walk, whatever. And remember, drinking does not release stress in the long term, so do not rely on alcohol as a stress reliever. Work on your work-life balance. Friends are very important; spending time with loves ones is very good for relieving stress." Even then, a lot of people working in Shanghai simply adapt and learn to cope with the stress—but how do you know when it’s gotten out of hand?

    1. Overworked people are often dehydrated and skip meals—make sure you drink enough water and eat light, healthy meals on time. 2. Lack of focus creates susceptibility to injury – don’t lose your focus when doing basic things like crossing the road. 3. Get adequate sleep and exercise. 4. Deteriorating relationships – people show signs of apathy to those around them, resentment towards employer or avoidance of loved ones. Keep this risk in mind and put equal value or more on yourself and your family. 5. Stress management activities – yoga, meditation, taichi, even just going for a walk. Do anything to sort of switch the mind off of work for awhile, especially if you can get some “fresh” air and sunlight.

    Leslie Bottrell / General Practitioner

    Bottrell is a GP at American Medical Center. She says: "Expats are a relatively healthy population here, but we do often see the signs of stress and overwork – excessive weight, high blood pressure, lots of incidences of insomnia and so on. No one is immune from the effects of overworking – with the majority of our patients, what we see is a long term effect. Dropping dead at your desk is quite a rare case. When you’re talking long term, it’s more difficult to impress upon people the consequences. Like smokers, [overworked employees] don’t tend to think that far down the line. White collar workers tend to say to themselves 'I'll just work this hard for this one time,' then end up suddenly working at an unsustainable level." "How long someone can sustain high levels of stress and work -- that depends on the state of health before the job, if there’s a family history of conditions, their own lifestyles. But what we see is that those who do overwork tend to ignore symptoms. They don’t make time to go see the doctor for checkups, [or] they delay their treatment when something is bothering them. [Some physical signs of overworking are] fatigue, shortness of breath, chest pains, tightness in the chest, an increase in blood cortisol levels, which can lead to high blood pressure. People might also experience lowered immunity, become susceptible to infections—which tend to last longer. When someone’s whole focus is on work, there can be mental issues too, like feelings of depression, job insecurity or anxiety. We also see an increased likelihood of risk-taking: smoking often ties into the culture, as well as drinking. And in my practice, you might see an increase in STDs and physical injuries because people are not really caring for themselves, and are doing things without thinking or paying attention." And lastly, what are the legal limits of such incidences?

     

    Helen Li of TransAsia Lawyers

    Li is a partner at TransAsia Lawyers. The law firm specializes in commercial and corporate law and was named Chambers & Partners' "Law Firm of the Year" for employment law in China for 2010, 2011 and 2013 as well as China Law & Practice as "PRC Firm of the Year for Labor & Employment" in 2011 and 2012. "The working hours standard currently implemented nationwide is 8 hours a day (excluding time spent traveling to and from work, mealtimes and other rest periods), 40 hours per week [in total]… An employer that needs to extend its employees’ working hours due to production and operational requirements may arrange to do so, although generally not for more than 1 hour per day. In special circumstances requiring a further extension of working hours, employers may do so, provided that the employees' health is not affected and that the extended working hours do not exceed 3 hours per day, or 36 hours per month." If workers are only legally allowed to do a maximum of three hours overtime, why do we see people who are leaving their offices at say, 10-11pm – clearly more than the maximum? "For certain positions, it is possible for the company to adopt a non-fixed working hours system, but only with approval from the local labor bureau (ie, in Beijing, senior management personnel are exempt from such approval requirement). Under such a system, the company need not pay its employees for overtime nor is there a cap on the maximum number of working hours, subject to local laws. If foreign workers (which, for purposes of PRC employment law, includes residents from HKG, Macao and Taiwan) are employed directly by an entity registered within the territory of the PRC, then their employment relationship will be governed by PRC law. Accordingly, they are entitled to the same protection as Chinese employees. However, if a foreign worker (a) signed his/her employment contract with and established the employment relationship with an offshore entity; (b) is seconded to work in China for its subsidiaries; and (c) the parties have chosen a foreign law to govern the contract, then their employment relationship (including with respect to working hours) will be governed by applicable foreign law, not PRC law.] So, the overtime laws for Chinese workers don’t necessarily apply to foreigners." Is there any way for a worker to protect him/herself against over-exertion or exhaustion? "In China, if an employee’s death is determined by the relevant authority to be a work-related injury, then the work-related injury insurance fund and the employer must pay compensation to his/her family member. Determining whether an employee’s death is work-related requires analysis of various factors, including whether such injury occurred during working hours, within the work place and due to the performance of work duties. According to Article 15 (1) of the Work-Related Injury Insurance Regulations, if an employee dies during working hours or while on the job, or within 48 hours after obtaining emergency treatment for a disease, then the death will be deemed to be a work-related injury. Under current PRC employment law, there is no legal concept of 'death caused by over exertion/exhaustion', as there is no objective, legal standard for “over-exertion or exhaustion”. [Thus, it’s not definitive] whether a company is liable for an employee whose death is caused by over-exertion/exhaustion. Because under PRC law there is no concept of “death caused by over-exertion/exhaustion” and this type of dispute seldom happens in China, it’s hard to speak confidently about a worker’s chances for success." *** *Name partially withdrawn on request of interviewee. Editor's note: This article first appeared on CreativeHunt on May 30, 2013. We're rescuing it from the archives and chucking it back into the rotation because we feel you might find the information useful and relevant. We've re-checked and confirmed the logistical details contained herein. From the CH vaults, this one's aged like fine wine...

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  • Agency Spotlight, Tech

    [Dogfight]: Shanghai Printing Companies

    By CH Staff 13 May 2016 5004 views

    We commissioned nine local printing companies to do the exact same project: print the SmartShanghai media kit. Some were good. Some were just OK. Others were straight shameful.

    Deja Vu

    Finding It: Located in a compound of offices and is semi-difficult to find. To get to their office, you have to go inside a garage and ride up the elevator. Service: Service is station-oriented; we moved from one station to the next and talked to three staffers during our visit. The whole process took about 30 minutes. The people were polite and professional, but the delivery of the product took the longest to arrive—about 4-5 business days, versus the 1-2 day average. Basic English OK. Cost: 214rmb* Quality: Product was everything we asked for and looks good—colors and quality all pretty much spot-on. The paper they used feels flimsy, though. That means this booklet was significantly thinner than the other ones we received. THREE STARS.


    Hongfeng

    Finding It: Not hard to find if you can read Chinese. It’s your average Chinese printing shop on the side of a busy street. Its windows, doors, and really, any space possible, are plastered with advertisements. Inside is packed with machines and chairs randomly squished into the tiny office. Service: Owner is Canadian, but never in the office and the two shopkeepers don’t speak any English. The two girls that worked in there were eager to help at first, but after hearing that we only wanted one sample book, they reluctantly agreed to help us and complained one too many times about how they are losing money over this transaction. Cost: 200rmb wasted* Quality: Hilariously disappointing. This cost us 200rmb, though. Not so hilarious. Just offensive, really. This piece of crap was most certainly printed on a mid-range home printer and bound by someone with the DIY capacity of a middle schooler. They managed to make this usually attractive lady look like a corpse too. ZERO STARS.


    EP China

    Finding It: Easy to locate and quick to get to since they are located right by metro station Loushanguan Road (Line 2). Service: One of the best received from companies on this list. We sat down with a designer who helped us one-on-one. He was attentive and made suggestions on improving the design of the book. We didn't take his advice, but nice of him to offer it anyway. The whole process took 15 minutes and delivery was next day. Really efficient and painless compared to the other companies. And, this was the only place that followed up/emailed before and after the product was made. Basic English OK. Cost: 260rmb* Quality: Colors are great, and the paper is thicker and sturdier than that used by the other companies. It makes a big difference—this booklet from EP China just feels like its higher quality than some of the other ones we received. But, that seems to come at a cost, since EP China was one of the most expensive. FOUR STARS.


    ToneKing

    Finding It: Easy to find. We went to the one in Changning, which is not too far from the Songyuan Lu metro station (line 10). The office looks tidy, professional and well-organized. Service: Slow. So, so...slow. We spent two hours here, first waiting in line, then being led from one station to the next and one person to the other, with lots of waiting even as we were getting helped. The workers are polite but kind of robotic and detached, which creeped us out a little. Basic English is OK. Cost: 117rmb* Quality: There’s a reason it’s popular in Shanghai. For a low price, the product was great. They delivered on what we said we wanted and we received the product the next day. BUT, the guys at ToneKing took it upon themselves to tweak the color saturation of our book cover so that the sunset looks over-dramatic and fake. We would have given them full marks if they hadn't gone and stepped all over our design game. FOUR STARS.


    PX2

    Finding It: The hardest place to find on this list. The office building is old, dark, and located inside a maze-like alleyway. Once inside, it was a new mission to find the office itself. There are no signs; we had to ask their neighbors before finally knocking on a closed door. We wouldn’t suggest going in personally if you don't have to. Service: PX2 calls itself a "fine art printing studio" and kept telling us that it was not suitable for small-scale printing. On our first visit, we were told by the receptionist that the owner would contact us via phone the next day. Afternoon came the next day and nothing from her, so we called her. She was pissy from beginning to end. We said we needed one sample book, and she quoted 900rmb. Then she changed her mind and said they don’t provide that kind of service and told us to go try elsewhere. Cost: 900rmb* Quality: We are too broke to know. ZERO STARS.


    Hongmo

    Finding It: It’s a small shop within an office building near Jing’an Temple. Easy to find. The storefront is actually an office that houses five designers—the actual printing is done off-site. Service: Hongmo says it distinguishes itself from competitors because it's a green printing company that uses soy ink. English speakers OK. Service was professional. We sat down one-on-one with a designer who was nice to us even though we interrupted his lunch time. Hongmo is also opened on weekends, which not all professional printers are. Cost: 100rmb* Quality: Colors and concentrations all great. Paper is just slightly thinner than we would have liked. And, they forgot to give us the glossy cover that we made a point of asking for several times. We got a matte cover instead. THREE STARS. (Minus one for the slip-up)


    Guangyi

    Finding It: Ugggggh, difficult to find. It's located inside an alleyway, and you have to go behind a building to reach the elevators. Spaces are tight—there's a reception area and five designers cramped behind it. Service: Their website is under construction, so calling or emailing for more information is a must. Polite and professional service, though. The designer we worked with was really good about making sure she got all the details just right. She even called the next day to double-check all details before the file went to print. Delivery is fast, just two business days. Basic English OK. Cost: 100rmb* Quality: Not bad. Pretty much got everything we wanted, but the colors seem a bit dull compared to the other booklets we got back. Somehow the bold colors just look less saturated and don't pop out as much. THREE STARS.


    Call2Print

    Finding It: Relatively easy to find, as long as you don’t get lost in the outlet mall next door. Note that the entrance to the shop is at the side, not the front, of the building. The office is small and clean, with only two to three designers. Service: These guys run a full-service company, so they can do graphic design and printing, from paper products to things like canvas bags and mugs. English speakers OK. Service was personal, one-on-one with the designer. He was attentive and the whole process was quick and efficient. Delivery is fast and they are open on Saturdays. Cost: 230rmb* Quality: One of the best booklets we got back, but we noticed that they also went ahead and "enhanced" the colors on our cover page. No, they did not ask us or notify us of the change. It's not nearly as dramatic as ToneKing's tweaking, though, so we forgive them. The only thing that could’ve been better is if the cover pages were thicker, as there isn't much difference between the thickness of the inside pages and the cover. FOUR STARS.


    PICJOY

    Finding It: We don't know. This was the only company that didn't require us to come in to their shop to discuss the details of our print in person. We did everything over email and the phone. Service: Good. Simple and direct. We were glad to save the trip to their office for yet another meeting. Basic English is OK and even though communication is all kept digital, their staffers respond pretty quickly. Cost: 180rmb* Quality: Really good. One of the best ones we got back—colors, quality, binding, paper, all good. And the price is right too. Considering that it was one of the most straightforward companies to deal with, we'd probably go with them again. FIVE STARS. *** *Note: Sample prices vary according to your project and requirements. These prices are just for reference for our specific project. Big thanks to Nancy Bai for her work on this article

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  • CH5

    CH5: English Language Bookstores

    By Cindy Kuan 13 May 2016 2186 views

    Slim pickings in foreign-language bookstores in Shanghai—here are a few of the city's standouts, from small indie shops and secondhand hole-in-the-walls to the behemoths on Fuzhou Lu.

    Dukou Bookstore

    828 Julu Lu, near Fumin Lu | Full Listing →

    Dukou is a small bookshop that's popular among the local MUJI, Kinfolk and DIY-loving crowd. Publications here are almost all in Chinese, with the exception of a few shelves dedicated to used foreign-language books and old magazines like Monocle and National Geographic. It's not suitable for those seeking specific titles, but it is good for browsing used books when you're in the Julu Lu area and want to laze away in an indie bookstore. There are some great alternative fashion and design magazines laid out on the table at the entrance, including new-ish indie travel mag LOST, which was written by Shanghai-based creative industry types. Dukou keeps one sample copy out so that you can flip through them. Another bonus: there's patio seating out front, too. Sample costs: Used English-language paperbacks and back-issue magazines (30-45rmb). Closest metro stop: Changshu Road, 15 minute walk


    Foreign Language Book Store

    390 Fuzhou Lu, near Shanxi Nan Lu | Full Listing →

    Fuzhou Lu is widely known as Shanghai's bookshop center, and the no-nonsense Foreign Language Book Store is the city's closest thing you can find to a Border's/Barnes & Noble/whatever mega bookstore you know from your home country. The entire building is dedicated to English-language books, so they've got everything from business books, classics, romance novels and cookbooks to current bestsellers, test prep books, teen fiction, magazines and textbooks. The first floor is dedicated to fiction and popular contemporary titles, second floor holds test prep books, third floor has art and design books and fourth floor features children’s books. The shop carries all the regular genres, though the placement of books can be somewhat confusing—Foreign Language Book Store's staffers can all speak English, though, and can point you in the right direction. Sample costs: Classic paperbacks range from 100-140rmb; larger coffee table books can go up to 400-700rmb. Closest metro stop: East Nanjing Road, 10 minute walk


    Garden Books

    325 Changle Lu, near Shaanxi Lu | Full Listing →

    This has become the go-to bookshop for foreigners in town, largely thanks to its location on a prominent shopping street smack dab in the middle of Xuhui district. It's also thanks to a particularly large selection of books, including books produced by local foreign talent (Shanghai Blink, a photo book of Shanghai's everyday city scenes, is among them). That's one of Garden's shining features, really—being a platform for local writers and artists to sell their work. In addition to that, Garden carries the usual magazines, fiction (even teen fiction), classics, children’s novels, design books, travel guides, postcards, Moleskine notebooks, all that good stuff. There are also small collections of books in other languages too, like Spanish, French and Italian. The in-house café also has a nice place to sit and relax, with coffee, tea, gelato and desserts on offer. Sample costs: Paperbacks in the 100-150rmb range; hardcovers 150-200rmb. Closest metro stop: South Shaanxi Road, 5 minute walk


    Shanghai Book Traders Used Books

    36 Shanxi Nan Lu, near Fuzhou Lu | Full Listing →

    This one is in a bit of an obscure spot, but it's still just a stone's throw away from Fuzhou Lu—just two blocks away from the mega bookstores sits this small, shabby shop that buys and resells old books at excellent prices. It looks pretty rundown from the outside, and the people running the place can be pretty curt with you, but don't let all that deter you from the value it offers. You can get dictionaries, interior design books and novels, plus back issues of Vogue, The Economist, TIME, and National Geographic magazines stacked to a human-size height. Note that the books on offer, much like the magazines, scream of a bygone era, like hardcovers from the Sweet Valley High Twins tween series from the 1980s. Some of them even had library stamps inside the jacket. There are some good architectural, interior and graphic design books on offer, though these are also showing dated trends. Sample costs: dictionaries (20-80rmb), paperbacks (15-30rmb), back-issue magazines (8-25rmb), hardcovers (100-120rmb) and coffee table tomes (50-300rmb). Closest metro stop: East Nanjing Road, 5 mins. walk — take Exit 4.


    Shanghai Book City

    465 Fuzhou Lu, near Fujian Zhong Lu | Full Listing →

    The seven story "Book City" is supposedly Shanghai's largest bookstore. Most of the publications are in Chinese, though there is a sizable collection of English-language books on the top floor. The fourth floor is dedicated to study aids, which includes English-learning books and tutorials. Book City's selection focuses on popular paperbacks, so expect the classics, plus New York Times' bestseller titles here. One of the highlights in Book City's English language selection is its surprisingly well-picked selection of children's entertainment and educational books—there are beautifully illustrated pop-up books and even "Shakespeare for Kids" sets. Sample costs: Paperbacks in the 100-130rmb range; children's hardcover books in 150-200rmb range. Closest metro stop: People's Square, 10 minute walk *** Photography by Brandon McGhee

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