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Old books, new stories

Online + Offline + Printed book

A printed book sharing system for Chinese traditional bookstores to attract more readers and customers.

A case study of design strategy and business design 


Design Strategy/ Service Design/

User Experience Design/ 

Design Tools:

Sketch/ Adobe Indesign


12 weeks

My Role:

Design Research/ Design Strategy/ Frameworks/​ Prototype


Individual work


Oct. 2017


When I was in high school, my favorite place is the bookstore close to my school called Photosynthesis.  However, when I went to college, the bookstore closed. Not only the Photosynthesis, but there are also many bookstores which are facing the same situation.

Chinese bookstores are facing the big crisis of massive amounts of unsalable presswork. Because of the impact of online bookstores and e-books, traditional bookstores are facing the problem of losing customers for a long time. Many bookstores are nearly out of operation, or even already closed. Also, a significant amount of unsalable books is a kind of source of waste. 


The Photosynthesis Bookstore ( shutout )


To survive, many bookstores start to sell coffee or gifts. However, is it still a bookstore or a gift shop? Customers may don't want to read and buy books.

How might we design a new experience for them to attract more customers and solve the unsalable book problem?


How might we combine the advantages from both online and offline bookstores? 


Although the e-books seem like convenient and lower cost, there are still lots of people like printed books.  Also, some of those readers think that the traditional bookstore cannot be instead by the online bookstore, even the online one has the lower price.  Online and traditional bookshops have different advantages. 


Knowledge and learning are still necessary for people. However, in China, the population of readers is less than in other countries. What we would do is to attract people back to reading and books. 

Also, keeping the health of the traditional bookstore industry is essential. It provides people a quiet, pleasant atmosphere for reading. Plus, It’s a cultural symbol. 


Research Plan

To solve the problem, the crucial problem is how to attract more customers/readers who really like books. Therefore,  I decided to start with the customer's perceives. 




What do they want?

Offline bookstores


Advantages + situation

Existing strategies

Online bookstores



Who are they?

What do they do?

​Why do traditional Offline channels

still attract customers? 


Type of different customer groups


How can we combine the advantage of the Online channels to make traditional Offline channels more attractive?

I compared the four most popular Online bookstore/ book sharing channels online.  I want to know the pros and cons of those channels, and what differences they could bring for readers and users.


Interaction types of different book channels

How the customers, readers, and users interact with books and each other in different bookselling/ sharing channels?

Customers could other's comments, and they can share thought with each other.

Customers can only read books, but they cannot get any comments or thoughts from other readers.


How might we create a new bookstore experience which could tie readers and books closely?


How do actual Chinese readers and Offline bookstores' customers think?

There are steel many people love the printed book. The book has the smell, the texture of papers.  Readers will feel the book and knowledge by their eye, touch, and smell. Also, readers do not need to worry about the low battery. Even some of them have a strong thought that they think the electronic book is not the real one.

The same situation as the Offline bookstores, many readers also have many books they already read or they don't want to own anymore. Meanwhile, they need to buy new books.

How do those readers get newly printed books and deal with the old ones? 

How do customers think about Offline bookstores? 


Insights of bookstores

Although customers like to go to the Offline bookstores to explore interesting books, they are facing some problems below.👇


They don't want to cost a bunch of time to spend on Offline bookstores although they like it.


They don't want to spend money to buy a book which they don't know if they like or not.


They prefer the bookstores which close to their home or company.


Different bookstores have different qualities. Customers cannot know if an unfamiliar bookstore is worth to go.  

Insights of the printed books

Readers also didn't figure out how to deal with the old books appropriately. Most of them just keep Storing the books in their storage, or, they just sell the old books out as wasted papers. 

They are all kind of a waste for the book resources. How could we deal with that waste?

How might we make the books flow around the bookstores?


Affinity diagram and other inspirations

What could we include in the new business system? I synthesis the important points from the previous research, and also find some inspirations for the new system.

Affinity diagram


Thoughts need to share

Books need to flow

If we could let books share between different people and bookstore, it will increase the number of customers. Also, it could solve some unsalable book problem.

When readers read books, they have the willingness to share their thought with others and want to know how other readers think. 

In the new system. I want to include the features which could let our customers communicate with each other well.


Ship of Theseus

A book with a special form.

It has many notes, clues, and evidence left by” different readers”. You would detect the truth by using those “clues and evidence”.



Business design solution

A book sharing platform


I want to build a system to make different stores can exchange their resources. Also, readers could find what they like near their home or company. The stores could lend books, including unsellable books to the readers. Also, readers could lend their books to other readers via bookstores. We would design an app to let the reader find the stores and easily communicate with other readers.


Using books as a communication tool, not just the book. Let readers find resonance and empathy. 

Who are stakeholders?

We have two types of users which are the customers and the manager of the bookstore. They have different needs of booksellers, also, their needs impact each other.


Service Blue Print


Application functions


Main Functions & User Interface Design



Users could see the most recent post by others. In this part, users could communicate with each other. Also, if they want a specific book, they also could post the need on the platform.


On this page, users could explore interesting books under different categories. Also, they could check where the book is located.



Bookstore address


Where is the book now? Where has it been?


Users could see the details of the specific book. Who is the owner? Which bookstore is the holder of the book? Where has it been? What kinds of interesting things happen in this book? 

Finally, What is my aim?

My aim is to use the book as a communication tool for the reader. People could interact, write comments on books. Users could create new stories for old books by using this platform. Also,  the bookstore will have more active customers and could be advertised through the platform.

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