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Wuguan Books: A Taiwan bookstore where you shop in the dark

(CNN) – Remember when you snuck a flashlight under the covers so you could read a book after bed? A bookstore in Taiwan promises you a similar experience.

Visitors walk through the store in extreme darkness, with the exception of the dim spotlights on each book cover and the reading lights on some desks.

The unique bookstore was founded by the award-winning architecture and interior designer Chu Chih-kang.

No flashlights allowed

The mixture of pitch black surroundings and dimly lit books creates the illusion that the books are “floating” while the rest of the surroundings disappear. There are 400 bookshelves in the store, each with only one “floating” book.

“This is designed so that people can focus on each book. In an environment where you can’t see, your other senses are sharpened,” Su Yu-shan, shop manager, told CNN Travel.

The two-story bookstore is known for its lack of light.

courtesy Lee Kuo-min

But don’t try to cheat by using your smartphone to light the way: the use of flashlights and flashes is prohibited in Wuguan.

And that’s not the only rule in this adventure store. There is a list of ironic rules at the entrance. These include “Don’t yell if someone steps on your toes. Step on his / her” and “If someone wants the same book (as you), buy the book or get his / her number.”

Harry Potter fans will also appreciate one of the guidelines: ‘If you think it’s too dark inside, take a branch and shout’ Lumos’. “

The bookstore is not meant to be used for “Instagram Beauty Shots”.

But ultimately, Wuguan is so much more than a store – the store’s staff believe that buying books has a higher purpose. The bookstore’s slogan is “Wuguan Books – about reading the soul”.

“In this environment you are free to be yourself, to communicate with your soul – your truest self,” said Su.

That is why the entrance of Wuguan is decorated as a traditional Chinese mourning hall. It’s a metaphor for visitors to let go of the images and judgments that have been holding them back.

Taiwan pitch dark bookstore Wuguan Books

Wuguan Books is located in Pier-2, Kaohsiung’s warehouse that became an arts center.

courtesy Lee Kuo-min

“When you visit Wuguan, you need to spend time with yourself and find a book that can appeal to you rather than Instagram beauty shots,” Su said.

Wuguan Books doesn’t care about having the largest selection. Instead, it focuses on creating an experience.

“Although we don’t have a lot of choices like a regular bookstore, people (here) spend long periods of time communicating with books,” said Su. “The dark environment has helped people to pick up books that they are not allowed to pick up in other bookstores. Mostly erotic, but also books about souls, emotions or negative energy. It helps people to muster up their courage to be rebellious or theirs to put wounds. ”

Wuguan is currently only open to visitors 18 and over as the store contains some books that deal with sensitive topics and sells goods that may not be suitable for younger readers (such as sex toys).

Haunted House vibes

In addition to books, there is also a small shop in Wuguan that sells a varied mix of curiosities, home accessories and sex toys, as well as a coffee bar.

Taiwan pitch dark bookstore Wuguan Books

Small reading lamps are set up – just enough light for reading.

courtesy Lee Kuo-min

“Things that we thought might happen, like tripping, sleeping, and stealing guests, almost never happened,” said Su.

“But many were reluctant to come in because they were afraid of the dark – they thought it was a haunted house.”

Wuguan Books, C7-6 Warehouse, 2-1 Dayi Street, Pier-2 Art Center, Kaohsiung City; +886 7 531 8813

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