Cambridge University Press is not the only one to tangle with the forces of regression in China’s literary marketplace.

Jifeng

Jifeng, an underground bookstore (literally — it’s in a subway station below the main public library) in Shanghai is to shut down at the end of January. Their persistent selection of books too liberal-minded for the authorities seems finally to have brought them to grief. Enough is enough: their lease from the library will not be renewed. The library says they have no choice in the matter.

Obviously anyone seeking to keep a lid on any kind of materials available to their citizens is likely to keep an eye on bookshops. Book selection is an even more challenging problem for Chinese booksellers than it is elsewhere. However, as The Economist relates politically risqué books and Western literature in general can often be offered in stores which purvey clothing or café service. The vigilant authorities will probably catch up with many of these, but in the meantime others will open. Whac-a-mole lives. (The Economist piece on-line doesn’t actually show a picture of Jifeng at the top, as their print edition did. Their picture is of the café named 1984 which displays various editions of the Orwell novel, but carefully displays a sign stating “None of the books in this shop is for sale”.)