My Favorite: Jifeng Book Store

I recommended this book store to a friend visiting Shanghai. I’d like to share again.

The best book store for me in Shanghai is the Jifeng Book Store. Here is the location:

5th Floor, Raffles City, 268, Xizang Middle Road, Shanghai

There is another one at the Shaan Xi Road Metro Station:

They are good because they spent good effort on book selection. So the books in the store are nice for me. However, there is not many English books or other language books there.

10 thoughts on “My Favorite: Jifeng Book Store

  1. typo: langauge -> language

    is there any pictures? “nice for me” may not be a good reason for recommending anything, different people have different taste.

  2. When seeing “Book Store”, my first idea is to find a URL in the article. But last I only find the actual address:)

    I recommand Jianshuo to publish with a e-map which can help people to find the location easily. Like or maybe google map.

  3. Dear Jian Shuo Wang! I´m greeting you from Sweden up in the North. See my Flickr with snow, deer and real Winter. This is just a personal greeting beacuse of your wonderful blog. You see, your is the 2nd of chinese blogs that I explore. Welcome visiting me in my personal non-commercial Mission Xp [M’Xp]. //Dag

  4. My favorite Jinfeng is the Jing’an Temple store, because they have a good selection of books on Shanghai architecture, and because they are next to the New York Pizza shop.

  5. Jie wrote:

    “First off, whether you accept it or not, like it or dislike it, it’s already a fact that English is by all means the international language, especially in academia.”

    Sorry to respond with a lengthy rebuttal, but this issue– the language of choice for publishing scientific articles and other academic papers in China, Taiwan and elsewhere in East Asia– is an extremely important topic for China and the region in general and one, in fact, where I recently chaired a seminar. I’m a Chinese-American raised mostly in the US, but I’ve spent time both in Taiwan and mainland China, so I’m essentially bilingual and bicultural. I’ve done some crucial historical research on this topic and I need to confront Jie’s points, since his post is full of misconceptions that would cause tremendous damage to China’s effort to become a mature scientific nation.

    First of all, remember that the leading scientific languages in years past were Latin, French and German at various points. Scientists around the world (including Americans in the 1800’s) had to publish, for example, in German to an extent to get their ideas out, and they certainly had to read German. But at the same time, Americans were publishing to an extent in their own English-language journals, which they could do quickly and more efficiently because it was their native tongue. This is more or less the “default” state for a language in which important science is done, but which isn’t the major international tongue– French scientists today, for example, publish articles in both English and their native French. When the US became the world’s bellwether for science and technology in the late 1950’s (it was *not* right after WWII, as German continued to dominate the journals even into the 1950’s), the language shifted because *the most important work was appearing in the English-language journals*. Obviously, scientific languages– by definition international– have shifted throughout the centuries, and the current one is not set in stone, either.

    What should decide the language of choice in which to publish? Basic cost-benefit analyses are what decide it, and ultimately, the costs to Chinese-speaking scientists of publishing exclusively or chiefly in English vastly outweigh the gains. (As I’ll show below, this also applies to Japanese and Korean scientists as well.) I think that was the point of Roger’s post above– it was certainly at the heart of the discussion in our seminar. There are numerous benefits to Chinese scientists *reading* English journals obviously, since they get to read the work of the top scientists (still mostly in the US) who publish for the most part in their native language. There are also benefits to *writing* papers in English, i.e., at the present time, greater visibility in the US and outside of the US (where English is indeed the most important scientific language, as German was for over a century) and a greater chance for collaborations. However, there are also tremendous costs to this arrangement, especially for the *writing* part (more than the reading), since Chinese-speaking scientists have to spend a tremendous amount of time in their careers mastering the fine art of English composition, very different from Chinese and full of strict and arcane rules, that’s different from their own. It basically requires that you spend years, often up to a decade, working in a lab in the US or UK, something that only a small fraction of scientists can realistically do, and the time spent mastering the niceties of composition in the language detract substantially from the time available to master scientific concepts and do good scientific work. Furthermore, particularly as the quality of Chinese science *does* continue to increase, it would mean– if Chinese scientists are encouraged to publish only in English– that China would suffer a continuing and extremely damaging brain drain of its best scientists leaving for the US and UK, thus leading to a vicious cycle in which Chinese science is continually weakened and never quite able to gain in strength.

    I’ve met a number of Chinese, Japanese and Korean scientists who felt compelled to write in English, but then told me years later that it had done enormous damage to their careers, since they’d spent well over a decade, basically, in a second career– becoming English composition experts– that took away a lot of time and energy from their main jobs as scientists. It hindered their scientific accomplishments, period. One Chinese scientist for example had performed outstanding work, and his English was actually almost fluent when he spoke, but he spent *almost two years* working on the darn manuscript for his particular project in English for an English-language journal, only to have it still sent back many times for endless reviews by the American journals due largely to language issues, *even when native speakers proofed the paper*. He eventually published in a Chinese-language journal, taking only a couple months to write the paper, and was thereafter able to get a nice fellowship position in reward for his hard work. Multiply this problem by millions of Chinese scientists, and you can see that there’s enormous damage done to the careers of Chinese scientists and the Chinese scientific establishment in general if they’re expected to publish chiefly in English, especially when Chinese science becomes high quality. Even the Japanese and Korean scientists in my seminar said unanimously, that, if given a choice between publishing in English and Chinese, they agreed that Chinese would be preferable to English because of the shared character system and also some shared vocabulary. While it would take the Japanese and Korean scientists over a decade to publish maybe 3 or 4 decent English papers, they could publish 10-12 in Chinese, while also getting more work done and initiating more projects. Mind you, the Japanese and Koreans would still be able to *read* English-language journals (and many also German-there’s still good science in the German journals), but they’d much prefer to write in Chinese if given the choice.

    The point here is rather obvious: The Chinese and Japanese scientists had realized that the *costs* of being expected to publish their work in English greatly outweighed the *gains*. This is what many American scientists had themselves found in the 1950’s. They published some of their work in German-language but also some in American English-language journals and, as they began to recognize that the costs of German-language publishing (discussed above) outweighed the gains, they gradually switched over to publishing a majority of their work in their native English rather than in German– which, in turn, increased the quality and prestige of the American journals. They could get more done– it just soaked up too much time to have to work so hard on their composition in German, and this despite the fact that the two languages are very closely related to each other! And while initially there were many European and Asian scientists who couldn’t read the English papers, this became less a problem as the US became a sci/tech leader.

    The point is, there are four factors that lead a scientific language to take off and become internationally popular, which the US possessed by the late 1950’s: #1, a large, self-contained scientific community and a very large, industrialized and urban population within its own borders (which increases the pool of people talking to each other, in their shared native tongue), #2 high-quality science being published within the country’s labs, themselves housed in high-quality universities and companies, #3 international respect for the country’s scientific work, and #4 the small amount of courage it takes to trade a temporary reduction in readers, at the outset of a language transition, for increased productivity. China already has the first two factors and the second, in particular, is rapidly gaining. The third will rise with the second, so the crucial ingredient is the fourth-quite simply, Chinese scientists having the confidence and the courage to make the switch and publish most of their high-quality work in Chinese. This then creates a “positive feedback loop” (a “virtuous cycle”) whereby the Chinese journals print more prestigious work and gain more international respect and, in turn, readership, which in turn facilitates more publishing in Chinese (which makes Chinese scientists more productive), and so on. It is a matter of simple courage mixed with the inherent quality of the science, pure and simple, which the Americans had in the 1930’s-1950’s and which I suspect that the Chinese also have now.

    Again, to reinforce the historical lesson, the American scientists in the 1950’s making the language transition could have been slaves to fashion and fads, and continued to publish all in German-language journals despite the fact that they were doing the excellent science themselves, thus slowing down their own work significantly. At that time, “everybody” knew that you wrote your papers in German. But the Americans made a smarter choice, and while there was a temporary reduction in their readership initially as they wrote in American English, the US scientists became far more productive and, over the course of years and decades, the rest of the world became interested in what they had to say. That’s why the scientific language switched over, and that’s why it may well switch again. In fact, China right now is essentially in the position that the US was in during the 1920’s and 1930’s, and as the quality of Chinese science grows, China must have the confidence to found journals and publish more in Chinese. Again, this will have a positive feedback loop effect as more Chinese scientists then have the confidence to publish in Chinese journals, which increases their prestige, which then facilitates more Koreans and Japanese (who are familiar with the characters) to publish, which then further increases the quality and prestige, and so on.

    This leads to the point about the Chinese characters, and it’s obvious, Jie, that you completely misunderstood Roger’s point. He wasn’t saying to write all the papers in pinyin only– he was saying it would be helpful to have electronic journals with an easy capacity to toggle such that Chinese learners in the West, for example, could use a simple program to convert the character-based papers into Mandarin pinyin with which many are already familiar (using software that’s already available), as they simultaneously get better at reading the characters. Roger was *not* saying to get rid of the characters altogether, a very crucial distinction that you failed to appreciate! In fact, this leads to an interesting corollary, which is that in many ways written Chinese is ideally suited to become the standard global scientific language, since in principle one can use the Chinese character-based system to represent any language based on the ideograms that the characters represent. Yes, I know, the hanzi have phonetics as well as radicals, and Japanese for example has a grammar that’s not easily suited by the characters alone. But the point is, it’s possible to read a manuscript in the ideograms without speaking the language itself, which increases the potential for readability; this is why, for example, few Japanese can speak Chinese but they can at least get the general gist of a Chinese newspaper article, for example. (It was in fact a Caucasian American student who raised this point in the seminar!) The core of Roger’s point, I suspect, is that Chinese has the potential of *dual representation* whereby the standard Chinese uses the characters, but Western readers in training stages can use a simple software program to switch between pinyin and the characters, facilitating comprehension. It’s as simple as that. As Roger said, the best work in Chinese would be translated into other languages anyhow as, for example, the papers of the great German physicists, chemists and doctors from the late 1800’s (who all wrote in German) have been translated into other languages. (Jie, please don’t start up on how it’s odd I’m writing this particular post in English– I’m doing so because Jian Shuo Wang has designated this as an English-language blog. This topic can be and has been published in Mandarin on other forums.)

    So the basic message is this: To become an international scientific language, a language must have, above all, a very large base of first-language speakers and a strong scientific establishment in countries that have that native language and publish in it. Science published in that language must have international recognition (which comes with increasing quality of the work). Perhaps most importantly, the speakers of the language must have the simple confidence to make the first fledgling moves to confidently publish quality science in their own language, which in turn attracts more people from within and outside that country to publish in it. As they say in the USA, “A journey of 1,000 miles begins with a single step.” China already has most of these factors, and needs to have confidence to publish in Chinese as well.

    This is not a trivial matter– in our seminar, we calculated that China’s scientific productivity could be reduced by up to 75% if all the Chinese-speaking scientists were compelled to write their important papers in English, based on the costs I’ve discussed above (time delay due to composition difficulties, reduction of the motivation to start Chinese-language journals, and severe brain drain of Chinese scientists to the US and UK). This would represent cause terrible damage to China’s scientific establishment and to the Chinese economy in general. In contrast, productivity in China, Taiwan and elsewhere in Asia will greatly accelerate as these scientists become more confident about publishing in Chinese. Note, I do think it’s important that Chinese scientists continue to be be able to read in English, German and other scientific languages. I also think it’s important that Chinese scientists continue to publish a portion of their work in non-Chinese language journals, especially in English but also in languages like German, French, Spanish and Japanese (depending on the language skills of the people in the lab), since this helps in the initial stages to attract more international attention. But there needs to be a gradual transition to publishing in Chinese as the quality of Chinese science and engineering improves. This will be even more important if and when the US economy unravels, which is a scary possibility here since the US national debt will soon surpass $10 trillion. But even aside from such a situation, Chinese-speaking scientists have to be confident enough to publish high-quality work in Chinese– as with other things, such confidence will inspire others to follow. If China fails to do this, and foolishly falls for the cheap and temporary attraction of publishing work only in English– even as Chinese scientists themselves become capable of top-quality work– then China and Taiwan will slip back into Third-World mediocrity status, continually bleeding off their brightest prospects to other countries and sharply reducing their own productivity and economic strength. This is far too important an issue to neglect, and Chinese must be supported as a scientific language.

  6. Drat! I realized I just posted my detailed response to Jie (where I’m discussing how it is important that Chinese-speaking scientists and professors encourage publication *in Chinese* as opposed to English as the principal language) to the wrong thread– I meant to send it to the “Diversity, Consistency, and Efficiency – Part II” thread, but I accidentally cut and paste my post into the “Jifeng Book Store” thread. Things have been ridiculously busy lately and I guess I got too tired. My apologies.

    This subject– on the language in which Chinese scientists should publish their work– is an extremely important issue for China, Taiwan and elsewhere in East Asia and, in fact, this has been a sort of a minor thesis topic for me, which is why I wanted to comment definitively on it. I recently chaired a small seminar of mostly Asian scientists on the subject of what language to publish their papers in, when I noticed the debate between Roger and Jie on this topic on the other thread. I’ve spent some years now going into the historical archives of scientific papers published from the 1870’s through the 1950’s and 1990’s, and from this, one conclusion is absolutely evident: It is extremely crucial for China and Taiwan to encourage Chinese-speaking scientists to start up and publish in Chinese-language journals, and to publish their best work in these journals (while, of course, also publishing a portion of their work in other languages and being able to *read* scientific work published in other languages).

    My full post on this topic in detail is at the other thread:

    On the topic of the Jifeng Bookstore: Yes, I have heard of this bookshop before and everything I have heard is that it is outstanding! I didn’t know about the one on Xizang Middle Road, but I have heard of the other– if I recall correctly, it’s actually right below the Subway Station for South Shaan Xi Road. Very clever and convenient location! It especially has an excellent selection of books in management, finance, computers and technical fields, from what I understand. I think it also does have some decent foreign language materials– including for students learning German, Russian or Spanish– though I may confusing this with another of the excellent bookstores around there. The books are so useful for so many subjects that it’s easy to spend the whole day there just reading– you almost have to set up a time limit for yourself to stop reading, and go and make your purchases at the counter.

  7. Wow. Doc, this is, like, the most brilliant post I think I’ve ever read in the history of blogging. You should be a national science policy advisor or something!

    I used to be on track to becoming a physicist (more money in finance :), we actually did go and read a bunch of the ‘classical’ papers in physics- every single one of them in German. The big Nobel physicists, Lorentz, Planck, Pauli, Einstein, Heisenberg, Bohr, Born, all of their landmark papers were in German and so we learned German. So me, I always wondered, how did the main scientific language change?

    That’s interesting history, dude, I like the way you lay out the factors that make a scientific language popular and how the transition was made.

    It’s wild too, back when i was sweatin’ my own studies in physics (it ain’t easy, i tell you that much), my professor said to me that Einstein in particular, he was just TERRIBLE at foreign languages, he was so bad that, if Einstein had had to write in English, he would have never gone into science and picked another field. Einstein would have probably become an engineer or somethin’, working for a German car company!

    My prof said Heisenberg and Born were also terrible at foreign languages, so they too would have just stayed out of science. Even if they *had* gone into science, they’d’ve had to spend years improving their English skills to write real sweet-sounding English rather than doing science, so they would have never accomplished their brilliant work cuz they would’ve lost so many years from their science careers.

    Fortunately they all felt confident enough to write in their native German, so the physics community got to see their genius at work.

    That makes me wonder, how many potential Einsteins, Heisenbergs and Borns do we have in China who could be publishing brilliant work now in their native Chinese, but are instead spending like 9 or 10 years having to become experts in English writing skills to write up papers in English which is such a ridiculously different language than Chinese? And yeah, i wonder too, how many brilliant young scientists is China losing permanently to the West if they’re made to feel their native Chinese is useless as an academic language? Brain drain hurts, man.

    Now, for a small country like Hungary or Finland, or Azerbaijan or something, where they use a language with less than 20 million worldwide speakers or something, then yeah, it makes sense for them to write their papers in English or German, or French or somethin’ else, since not too many people would read their papers otherwise. But China? You all have like 1.3 or 1.4 billion people in your country alone, plus like another 200 million or somethin’ Chinese scattered in other places.

    Plus, you all have the world’s smartest people, i heard China recently won #1 spot in some global math, science and invention competition (Germany was #2, so China beat the world’s best!). You all also have some fine productive science labs, that’s one reason I’m goin’ to China next year! So you all in China, you have the power to write in Chinese and have hundreds of millions of smart people able to read and comment on your work, plus do good science too that changes the world. You all would be makin’ a big mistake to slow yourselves up and require to write papers mainly in English– China, you all have what, a 3,000 year history, smart people, good science, biggest population in the world, strong economy and industry, you all are gonna be the best in the world soon, you just gotta have confidence, write in Chinese and you’ll speed your work up. I’m not sayin’ just ditch other languages, it’s also good to write some papers in French, German or English or Spanish too, but most of your work should be in Chinese. I promise, the rest of us will learn to read and write Chinese if you publish strong work in it!

    One more thing, the Doc’s so right man, when i was doing my phsyics study, we had a Korean postdoc there, he said the best thing for Koreans would be to be able to write in Chinese. He said he was so frustrated about havin’ to write in English cuz he spent like 6 years or so, in US and Australia just learnin’ English, how to write it better. He took English for like 10 years in Korea but he said it was useless, he had to spend like 6 more years just learnin’ how to write papers. He said if he could write in Korean, he could’ve tripled the number of papers he wrote, he could’ve won twice as many grants, started his career earlier, started his family earlier, earned twice as much money. He was sayin’ you all, in Korea, everybody would have a national celebration if Chinese became a big scientific language, they all learn the characters and they would gain a whole lot.

    So in China, you all already have hundreds of millions more non-Chinese people all gettin’ ready to write in Chinese if you create good Chinese journals. My family’s Filipino (a shout out to any of my fellow Pinoy homies out there!), we knew Tagalog and some Spanish, but an old buddy of mine from Manila, he says there’s lots of Filipinos in the universities who’d like to write in Chinese too, there are so many Filipinos now in China and Taiwan, they know Chinese, plus all the Chinese people in the Philippines. This despite us once bein’ a US colony, we still have people leanin’ to Chinese. Japan too, man, the younger people in Japan think Chinese culture’s cool, plus they learn the characters even if not used the same way– i went to Yokohama and they used to all learn English, now they’re all takin’ Chinese classes, and yeah, it’s much easier for Japanese to write in Chinese journals too.

    So that’s all i’m gonna say here for now. But Jian Shuo, your country China man, you all are like the heroes to Asian people everywhere now, you are our representative and the one way that Asian people can again be important in the world and respectable as much as the West. Asian people, we used to be wealthiest and most respected in the world, but people in the US, man they don’t know that history at all, they just think West is superior and Asians and Asian languages are all inferior. You in China becomin’ strong and productive again, you’re leadin’ the way, makin’ Asia a leader again, just be confident and make Chinese a prestige language, write your important work in it and the rest of us will be cheerin’ you on.

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