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Tonsan Bookstore

  • Date:2016-11-09
Tonsan Bookstore

  • Chinese Name: 唐山書店
  • Located At: Taipei City (Northern Taiwan)
  • Year of Establishment: 1982
  • Did You Know That …?
  • While most bookstores opt for high-profile locations to attract customers, Tonsan Bookstore always stays in the basement even after relocating three times. The store owner Chen Lung-hao (陳隆昊) believes that the relationship the bookstore forges with its customers is what matters the most.
  • English Address: No. 9 Roosevelt Rd. Section 3, Lane 333, Da'an District, Taipei City, Taiwan (ROC)
  • Opening Hours:
  • Mondays - Saturdays: 9am to 9pm
  • Sundays: 12am to 8pm
  • Contact Number: +886-2-2363-3072
  • Website:

Established while Taiwan was under martial law, Tonsan Bookstore once provided prohibited books for students eager for knowledge. With an owner who values independent thinking, the bookstore is a warm place that promotes thoughtful dialogue, diversity, and humanitarianism.

To enter Tonsan Bookstore, visitors will first pass through a stairway whose walls are covered by art, cultural slogans, and campaign posters. The underground bookstore, though old and simple without much decor, houses a rich collection of literature, poetry, and books on philosophy and sociology, as well as contemporary magazines covering feminism, environment, and immigration topics.

Located near National Taiwan University, the bookstore has offered non-mainstream books that are culturally enriching since the 1980s, allowing students to keep aloft with western ideas when left-wings books were unavailable under martial law. It has also helped scholars and young poets to publish and sell their works that contained socialist themes.

Before the Copyright Law was enacted in Taiwan, many English books were made available through photocopies. Chen's carefully curated selection of books were highly valued by teachers then, who often borrowed books from Tonsan Bookstore to use as teaching materials to cultivate student interest in such books.

Another unique characteristic of the bookstore is its employees, who are mostly literature, sociology, or law students from NTU. Unlike most employees of mainstream bookstores, Tonsan's knowledgeable staff members not only assist customers with their requests, but are also eager to recommend books and exchange ideas and banter.

Following the emergence of online bookstores and mega bookstore chains in Taiwan, Tonsan Bookstore was faced with the problem of losing customers. However, instead of adapting to mainstream tastes, the bookstore remains a quality place for alternative books such as those released by Hakka authors and Academia Sinica.

Today, Tonsan Bookstore works with other independent bookstores to promote the habit of reading and explore sustainable ways to run independently. Tonsan's unique atmosphere and strong relations forged with regular customers have secured its position as a cultural landscape in Taipei where visitors could go for the exchange of ideas and thoughtful interactions.