One of my favourite store chains in Taiwan is bookstore retailer Eslite. Not only do they have an interesting and very appealing retail concept, but I’m also impressed by how carefully the company tailors its brand portfolio and store layout to the local neighbourhood.
The Eslite chain started out as a bookstore in 1989 with a small selection of titles from the arts and humanities. Since then it has become a majorly successful multi-channel business. In 2004 Eslite was chosen as “Asia’s Best Book Store” in Time Magazine’s Best of Asia ranking and in 2011 the company received the Top 100 Taiwanese Brand Award from the Taiwanese government.
Books and literature are still a key part of the Eslite portfolio but the company has diversified its focus to embrace the cultural and creative industries in Taiwan, too. In some of the larger Taipei Eslites you’ll find gourmet food courts and super-stylish cafés, hand-made Taiwanese art and design objects, lifestyle cosmetics, international avant-garde fashion and accessories and a very comprehensive selection of books and magazines – mostly in Chinese but the larger Eslites also carry a respectable number of English language books. Some of the outlets feature lecture halls and auditoriums and in these stores there is a varied program of concerts, exhibitions and other cultural events. And the newest Eslite in Songshan even has an arthouse movie theatre.