樂學書局: The Lexis Book Co.

Filed under: — K. M. Lawson @ 10:47 am

Thanks to a tip shared by a fellow graduate student I met here yesterday, I learnt about another excellent academic bookstore here in Taipei which is, I’m told, a favorite among those “in the know.” Its owner, a legendary Ms. Huang (who was out when I visited today) is apparently well-loved among scholars all over East Asia as well as sinologists in the United States. This was confirmed by two elderly Korean philosophy professors I had a chat with, from two separate Korean universities, who said that they had been visiting and ordering books from the place for many years. One of these professors yelled the owner’s name affectionately as he disembarked the elevator and seemed very disappointed to see she wasn’t around.

樂學書局, or the “Lexis Book Co.” as it is known in English has one of the most unusual locations of any bookstore I have had the chance to visit. Whereas the 學生書局 is conveniently located on 和平東路 near the entrance of the Shida night market and 唐山書店 is just out of view in a basement locale near Taiwan National University, this book store is found in what looks like a converted residence on the 10th floor of an apartment complex on 金山南路 (Chin-shan S. Road), perhaps 10 minutes walk from Guting station.

There are no signs at the street level suggesting that this residential high rise houses a bookstore with one of the greatest collections of academic Chinese language works in Taipei. However, as I passed the security guard at the entrance to the grounds, he stopped me and immediately asked with a knowing smile, “樂學書局?” When I responded in the affirmative he told me to go to the apartment complex to the right and take the elevator to the 10th floor. The whole experience felt like that scene in the movie “The Matrix” where the band of adventurers go to visit the mystical “Oracle” in her hidden home.

Inside the apartment/bookstore every room is filled with books, including the shelves above the kitchen sink. History books can be found in its own room in the back corner. There is a great selection of both pre-modern and modern history but look through all the shelves since their semi-sorted nature can be deceiving. While almost all the books are in Chinese, there was a series of shelves with dictionaries and publications in everything from Manchu to the various languages of Central Asia. Another one of the rooms also has a good collection of the English language publications of SMC Publishing.

If you are in Taipei and have an interest in history or literature, especially, this bookstore is definitely worth the visit:

(02) 23219033
lexis at ms6.hinet.net

7 responses to “樂學書局: The Lexis Book Co.”

  1. Wenwang says:

    樂學! It is indeed a very obscure location, but a great bookstore. I received the tip to go there from an old pre-modern China scholar from a school in Canada. I went several times and eventually met Ms. Huang, who was very nice. The store also ships orders overseas; I once ran into the purchaser from a major American library there.

    I asked around most academic bookstores in Taiwan, as well as a few in the mainland, but there is one thing I cannot find. Is there such a thing as a comprehensive 文言文 =》白話 dictionary? Or even a 古文 =》 English dictionary of breadth? Various people suggested there wasn’t, and that I should just use “the Morohashi”(大漢和辭典).

  2. ludawei says:

    I was introduced to this bookstore during a brief trip to Taiwan in March this year and came back the next day to select a box of books to mail back directly to Canada for a nominal fee. Knowing how to find the place indeed makes one feel among those in the know.

    Ms. Huang is indeed wonderful and the collection of books is indeed great. Yet after tutoring myself on mainland academic publishing for a year in the bookshops of Shanghai, Nanjing and Beijing, I actually did not find so many Chinese language books of interest to me at 樂學書局, a vast majority being on Taiwan local history. Even if it was not the case ten years ago, mainland Chinese publishers are publishing far more interesting research on my period (Republican Chinese history) than Taiwan now (and many of them are available at bookstores in Taipei near Taida at a significant markup after their journey through Taiwan customs).

    Wenwang, I am not familiar with dictionaries in Taiwan any more, but there are a multitude of 文言文--〉白话 dictionaries in mainland bookstores. Most of them have the simplified and traditional character listed in alphabetical order by pinyin, and examples of usage in key classical texts (all in simplified). I have the 古代汉语词典 published by 北京 商务印书馆, 1998。 I paid 99.00 yuan in China, and saw it at my university bookstore in Canada for something similar in Canadian dollars, so I feel it is a good (and portable) first stop. If you want comprehensiveness, you can also get the 汉语大词典 in a software, fully searchable version. I’m not sure how much it costs or where to get it, I got mine *below market cost* from a friend. As to a 古文–〉English, if you can get your hands on a Matthews Chinese-English Dictionary, it is always useful in a pinch.

  3. Jon Renner says:


    how much breadth are you looking for? My classical chinese teacher recommends the 王力古漢語字典, which I find quite useful.

  4. Wenwang says:

    Thank-you for the recommendations, ludawei and Jon. I will pick up copies of the books you recommended (I still regret not getting 汉语大词典 last time I was in Taipei) when I am in Shanghai this fall.

    Currently my area of research is modern popular culture, particularly music. Some hip-hop and other artists like to throw in quotes from classics of Chinese literature, so I end up looking up the original for context.

    I actually found a copy of Dai Kanwa Jiten at my local university library. It has about 50,000 character entries, and the definitions are easy enough to read, with very little Japanese mixed in. At $2500 on amazon.co.cp and in 15 volumes, it is neither portable nor affordable, so I look forward to trying these other options.

  5. Martin says:

    For an on-line ‘dictionary’ of Classical Chinese, see the TLS @ http://tls.uni-hd.de/Lasso/TLS/default.html

    Best regards

    Martin S E

  6. Greg says:

    Hi! I came across this page while searching for Lexus. They published a book I am looking for that is not available from online bookstores in Taiwan, so I contacted them at Lexis@ms6.hinet.net which I found on multiple web pages. That was ten days ago and I have received no reply. Would anyone know how I can get in contact with them via email? Thank you : )

  7. Tonio says:

    Greg, I’ve been looking for them as well. I used to go there frequently when I lived in Taiwan and I ordered books from them when I returned. They used to send me their catalog once a quarter but stopped doing so a few years back. Now I haven’t been able to find them. Have they gone out of business? They were wonderful.

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