The Bookworm in Beijing will close today, November 11, after zoning changes targeting "illegal structures" in the city prevented its owners from renewing their lease.
The English-language bookstore opened initially as a lending library, after the original owner acquired stock from a United Nations sale. It evolved into a fully-functioning bookstore, with a popular cafe, and served as a community hub for expatriates in the city. It had also expanded, having at one time another Beijing location as well as outposts in Suzhou and Chengdu, both of which closed in the last two years.
The store was also responsible for playing host to many of the international authors touring China, and provided a venue for presentations, conversations, and debates that would not have been deemed appropriate for a state-owned bookstore. Each March for the past 12 years, it also hosted a wildly popular literary festival featuring dozens of international authors; four years ago, it added an EU-China-themed festival as well.
The South China Morning Post asked the store's owners whether the store's forced closure was politically motivated, but the owners declined to speculate. They did say that they are hoping to reopen in a new location.