Zhao Yi, a 20-year-old engineering student from the University of Shanghai for Science and Technology, compares his shopping list for books with his friends’ in Popular Bookmall on Shanghai’s Fuzhou Road. The mall hosts scores of bookstores of various sizes.
He has four books on his list: Zero to One, The Hard Thing About Hard Things, The Innovator’s Dilemma and Big Data: A Revolution. All of them are about starting up a business. His friends also have these books on their lists.
Asked why they do not share these books, Zhao said each of these books is like a Bible for young students who aspire to become entrepreneurs. “It’s like, you don’t share your mobile phone with others,” said Zhao.
At Popular Bookmall, shelves for startup self-help books host hundreds of varieties. Guides for writing up business proposals, team-building, marketing and networking are among the most popular categories, said Wang Yue, a shop assistant.
College students who wish to start their own business are among the most frequent readers/buyers of these books, and sometimes they buy more than 10 copies for entrepreneur club members in their college, according to Wang.
The “startups” section in bookstores has also become an “offline” corner for future entrepreneurs to meet their partners, said regular book readers at bookstores.
Ruan Fang, a 32-year-old developer of mobile phone applications for time management, said that she met her business partner for the first time in a bookstore when she was browsing through a book on application programing.
Her 28-year-old business partner Xie Xiaotian was reading a book on marketing. They both joined a lecture on entrepreneurship in the bookstore, and started conversing about books on starting up.
Soon, they found they both wanted to offer time management tools to people. They discovered their skill sets were complementary.
“You are less likely to chat to other readers of fiction, textbooks or social science titles because you may have different interests, taste and goals,” said Ruan.
“But in the ‘startups’ section of bookstores, you know that everyone is struggling with the same ambition and share the same passion. It is so interesting that books can link up people.”