How does one browse in a dark bookstore? Picture row upon row of faced-out books lit like tiny billboards floating in an inky black room, small candle lit café tables as little islands of light between hundreds of glowing covers… That’s basically the scene at Wuguan Bookstore in Kaohsiung, Taiwan. The idea behind the store is to create an immersive sensory experience in which the books themselves supersede all other distractions, with a carpeted floor to deaden the shuffling footfalls of fellow browsers and heavily curtained windows to keep out the pesky daylight (and its burdensome reminder that time passes). And, if you need to actually read some of the text, you can grab a seat at one of the aforementioned tables.
It’s hard to conceive of this kind of set up during a pandemic, but I can absolutely understand the dreamlike pleasure of being surrounded by a bunch of glowing, floating books. And can you imagine the surreptitious naps you could take in this place? (Counterpoint: in my various bookselling jobs I have caught people doing weird-ass shit in back corners—like, bad stuff. But that’s another story…)