The the state-owned English Language Bookstore on Wangfujing were once the only source of English books. Since then, they've increased their outlets and improved the selection and interiors. They've even been known to stock a small range of German and French books, mostly classics. Avid English-language readers head to the Bookworm on Sanlitun. Started by a long-term resident from Britain, it's also a comfortable cafe. It hosts the annual Bookworm Literary Festival and even sponsors a writer's residency programme.

Couriered Amazon deliveries take about 7 days. Lihong once ordered USD200 worth of books on standard mail that, after a month, had yet to arrive. Amazon support asked that he wait a week and when the books failed to arrive, they couriered a new set at no charge. A month later (2 months after ordering), the original shipment arrived. For this, Amazon deserves kudos, but unless you're patient don't skimp on the courier charges.

Some international business papers have local distributions. Weekly periodicals normally arrive at the beginning of the week. Thus, many choose to get their news on-line.

For fans of classic literature, your move to Beijing may be a good time to consider eBooks on your laptop or smart-phone. Just google "free ebooks". Carrefour also keeps a small stock of Bantam classics at reasonable rates. Geeks seeking manuals on the latest wizardry should try O'Reilly's Beijing for English language manuals (not for export) at a fraction of the off-shore rate. The only difference is the thinner paper, an environmental plus. O'Reilly's English language China-releases are for specialists topics only.

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