8 years old, Bilingual Journey, Bridge Books, Character Writing, Chinese Resources, Home Library

Using Boox E-Ink Tablet for Chinese Learning

Two years ago my friend organized a group buy for Onyx Boox e-ink tablets. I recommend you read her post since it covers basically everything you need to know. I resisted jumping on the bandwagon as I did not feel my son was ready for e-reading at 6 yo.

Fast forward two years. I decided to take the plunge and got a 10.3″ Boox Note Air (released in October 2020) for $479.

What changed my mind? The main reason is that Little Man has been e-reading in English since last summer using a Kobo Clara and now does most of his English reading electronically. This has saved me tons of money (since we borrow books for free from our library), space, time, and convenience not having to make library runs anymore.

Second, his Chinese reading has improved to the point where I think he can read picture-less books fairly soon. He is on the Reading 456 series which has a b/w picture every 10+ pages.

Third, although we LOVE our Kobos (one for each member of our family) for English, the 6″ screen is far too small to display Chinese if you want to use a zhuyin or pinyin font. See my example below. Using the zhuyin font, you end up with only 3 sentences per page, which means you have to keep turning the page. Annoying.

Finally, since Covid hit we’ve had more time at home and started practicing Chinese writing (something I previously said we would not do! Yup I will eat my words). I would like to practice writing without having to print out a ton of paper, hence an e-writing tablet.

Why an E-ink Tablet?

Probably some people are wondering why get an e-ink tablet when you can get a much more powerful iPad for the same price. For me, the main benefits are 1) e-ink is less straining on the eyes, and 2) fewer distractions. It is black and white and doesn’t display videos, social media, games well and hence it will be only for learning purposes.

Using Boox for Writing

Reasons why I am planning to move most of our writing needs to Boox:

  1. You can download a lot of PDF workbooks for free on the internet. Currently we are practicing writing basic 500 characters using the worksheets my friend shared for free on Motherly Notes FB group.
  2. For the workbooks we bought, I used VFlat and Adobe Scan apps to quickly scan them into PDF. It takes me about 10-15 mins to scan each workbook using VFlat. You may be wondering why bother to scan when I already own the workbooks. The main benefits are being able to do the pages several times, particularly for things like Chinese character writing practice. If you have multiple children you don’t have to buy multiple copies. Also most workbook pages do not lay flat which is super annoying and difficult for kids to write neatly. The completely flat surface on Boox makes it easier to write without the book spine getting in the way.
  3. Not having to lug heavy, bulky books around when traveling! The picture below should illustrate this!! It’s nice to have a bank of fun games and activities like Sudoku, word search, mazes… to keep busy in the car, waiting room etc.
  4. Use it as a notepad to write, scribble, draw. There’s different types of paper like lined, blank, 田字格 (square grid) for Chinese characters.
Which would you rather bring on vacation? 😉

It took me a few days to figure out this writing thing. The first time we tried Chinese character writing I realized the in-built square grid paper was far too small for my son so I found a PDF I liked better online and copied-pasted the file into Boox. So now the paper size is perfect.

Practicing character writing using the Notes function

I also copied-pasted several PDF files into Boox from my computer using the cable that was provided. I know there’s some wireless ways to transfer and sync files but so far I have not figured this out!!! To be determined…

Reading Apps

Gosh this took me HOURS AND HOURS of research and trial and error. I downloaded and deleted tons of apps before I finally figured out what works for me.

I don’t like having a lot of apps. I just want to keep things simple which means as few apps as I possibly can. This is not an issue for English books as 99% of the books I want can be found on the Libby app. This app is also FREE as I borrow books using my library cards (US and National Library Singapore).

My son also uses Epic and RAZ Kids at school but so far I have not downloaded these apps on Boox. Like I said, I am of the opinion that less is more. Oftentimes when kids have too many choices they just end up browsing around and can’t settle on anything.

Chinese books on the other hand… is far more complicated. You could try to go the route of downloading free ebooks from the internet. DO NOT RECOMMEND. When I tried downloading free Harry Potter books there were tons of broken links and phishing or X-rated websites. And when I finally found some links to download, I found that the versions of HP were not the official versions. The words did not match up with the physical HP books that I owned, so likely they were just translated by people on the internet and not professional translators.

So yes, I gave up on that. I would rather pay for an official ebook than to spend hours downloading a free unofficial (and probably unauthorized) version.

Long story short, my preferred apps for Chinese ebooks are JD Reads (Simplified) and HyRead 3 (Traditional). JD Reads is the electronic version of JD which is where I buy all my paper Simplified Chinese books. The reason I like JD Reads is because has fairly good selection of children’s books and has a pretty good text-to-speech function. The ebooks are not too expensive, e.g. the whole Harry Potter series is about $25 USD. It’s sooo nice not to have to pay for shipping.

Using text-to-speech function to read aloud Harry Potter book 1

Boox comes already pre-installed with JD Reads on it BUT only if you set the device language to Chinese. I noticed that when I set the device language to English, the bookstore only has English books. When the device language is Chinese, the bookstore is JD Reads with Simplified Chinese books. So far I have not figured out a way to have the device language be English and the bookstore be Chinese!

HyRead 3… this is an app from Taiwan. It has a good selection of children’s books such as Doraemon comics, Reading 123, Reading 456. Unfortunately most of these books are in PDF format and hence cannot be read aloud by text-to-speech function. Also in PDF the font is not as clear and font size cannot be adjusted! The positive of HyRead 3 is you can borrow ebooks for free by signing up for a free Taipei Library account. There is a limit of six books per month though.

Reading a book on Hyread app

A big negative about e-reading in Chinese is… only a small percentage of books available electronically. I don’t know why this is. In English you can find virtually any book in ebook format but not so in Chinese. Of our three favorite publishers 親子天下,康軒,三采, only 親子天下 has ebooks. So I would say that e-reading is Chinese still has a long way to go…. Hopefully they will expand their selection with time.

I also looked at the Kindle app for Chinese books but I am not a fan. The selection of Chinese ebooks in the US store is quite limited. There is a much larger selection in the China store but then you need a separate account and I find it too complicated to log in and out of two different Amazon accounts from two countries.

Final Thoughts

Well we have only had it for two weeks so I guess it’s too early for me to tell it’s long term benefit. We use it daily for various forms of writing, and tried some reading on it when we were on vacation last week. I really love that it is multi-functional and we can do all of our subjects (English, Math, Chinese, etc..) on it and was the only thing we had to carry with us while traveling. There are some minor negatives like Boox is quite heavy compared to Kobo, battery life doesn’t last as long (needs to be charged about twice a week). And there’s a learning curve for me to figure out how to use the various functions.

Free activity books (PDF) downloaded from internet

I am really hoping that starting next year (3rd grade) we can do most of our Chinese reading electronically and I can finally stop spending $$$$ on books and breaking my back lugging heavy boxes back from Asia… Fingers crossed!

Chinese Resources, Home Library

How to Buy Simplified Chinese Books from JD

Hopefully this answers most of your questions.

One of my boxes of books from JD

First of all, JD website is FROM CHINA and the books are in Simplified Chinese. So please stop asking if they sell Traditional Chinese books. If you are looking for Traditional books you need to shop elsewhere.

Do I sound snarky? Yes, I am annoyed because people persist in asking the same question no matter how many times I repeat myself. See? I even put Simplified in the title of this post. Okay then.

Note: I am NOT affiliated in any way, just sharing the best way to buy Simplified books if you are in the US.

What is it?

JD is like an Amazon of China. It has it’s own storefront and also some smaller sellers. I recommend you only buy from the JD storefront which is called 京东自营. You will see the small red logo in your cart when you add it in.


The main reason to buy from JD is low price. You will get a much better deal buying from China yourself as opposed to US retailers. For example Frog and Toad costs $18 (incl shipping to US) on JD and $29 on Jojo Learning. Complete set of Elephant and Piggie costs $59 on JD and $89 on Jojo and an APPALLING $149 on China Sprout. In most cases you can get books for very low prices, about $1-3 per book. More on prices below.

Do they ship to the U.S.?

Yes of course they do, why else would I be writing this post. Please stop asking this question okay?

How to Buy?

Go to this website https://www.jd.com/?country=USA and register an account. You can use a US phone number. Type in your info and US credit card number. I only use the website to register. The actual buying is much easier on the app so I recommend using the app (search for 京东 in App Store) to shop and check out.

What to Buy?

Option 1. Copy paste the Chinese name of book into the search bar

Option 2. Search using the terms below. e.g. type in “picture books hardcover complete set” or “comics complete set”

绘本 picture books

精装 hardcover

注音 pinyin

全套 complete set

桥梁书 bridge books

漫画 comics

一年级 课外读物 first grade books

二年级 课外读物 second grade books

How to Check Out?

You add all the books to cart, click the check out button. It shows you the book cost and the shipping cost (depending on weight). Please note that prices fluctuate somewhat from day to day, similar to Amazon. If you place a BULK order your shipping will be cheaper, for example right now they have a 90% off shipping deal if you purchase over ¥1000. Please trial and error to see what shipping rates will be better for you. Just add all your items to cart and it’ll populate the shipping cost.

How Long Does It Take?

About a week (pre-covid). I have not bought recently so I can’t say.

For Noobs:

If this is your first time buying from JD, I recommend you learn how to use it right now by placing a small order. Then you will be ready to take on the massive 11/11 sales which is like the Black Friday of China. You don’t want to be still learning how it works on 11/11 because good stuff sells out lightning fast.


People are constantly asking about price. First, let me just clarify that I do not have the gift of prophecy and hence am not able to predict what items will be on sale, how much they will be, what dates the sale will happen, how much your shipping will be or if it’s the lowest price right now.

The best advice I can offer you is this. Shopping on JD is like basically like shopping on Amazon. The prices fluctuate DAILY and sometimes DRASTICALLY. As you can see, my cart has gone down in price from ¥802 to ¥730 to the current price of ¥672 in the last month. I take screenshots to help me remember what the prices are. This week it has gone down another ¥100. It may go down further, it may not.

Same items, three different prices on three different dates.

The other way JD is similar to Amazon is this: lightning deals go OUT OF STOCK, FAST! By waiting for the price to go down further, you may find yourself 💩 out of luck as your beloved is no longer available. Then you really want to kick yourself. So, if you see a reasonable price that you’re willing to pay, JUST BUY IT. Even if you paid a little bit more, you’re still saving a TON. If you see a cheap shipping rate, sometimes 90% off or even free, then do not hesitate for even a second. Check out NOW. This is why you should always have your cart 🛒 ready to check out at any time.

Usually when something goes out of stock, it may be restocked in a few days or weeks. Long story short, check your cart every day.


By randomly clicking all over the app and claiming coupons, I managed to save about ¥400 rmb (about $60 USD). Many of them are limited time only and some have to be “snatched”. I watched the countdown and literally checked out the minute the lightning ⚡️ deal became available.

Coupon on top right corner of cart
Coupons on the main page

Note: It is really time consuming to do this. It takes a lot of trial and error as some coupons cannot be stacked and some can, hence you spend hours trying to figure out the best combo.

Note 2: As pictured above, the coupons are typically on the top right corner of your cart, labeled , or they are on the main JD page. This morning I managed to grab a ¥50 off shipping coupon from the main page.

Note 3: Coupons can be applied on top of their regular 50% off books and 80% off shipping deals.

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Home Library, Online shopping

Where to Buy Chinese Books in the US (2020 update)

People often ask about this so I’m going to consolidate it in one blog post. The Chinese book market has changed SO MUCH in the three years since I started this blog.

First, a little bit about my book buying style:

  1. My book budget is about $100-200 a month. (This is either outrageously high or low depending on who you talk to 😄).
  2. I don’t usually buy big box sets. I prefer to get just a few of each series to test the waters. This means I usually miss out on “bulk discounts” but that’s okay. No point buying Costco-sized tuna if you don’t even like tuna.
  3. We are fine with both Simplified and Traditional so I buy whichever appeals to me in content, aesthetics or price.
  4. If you are new to the Chinese book market, my advice is BUY HIGHLY POPULAR BOOKS. Firstly you are assured of quality (there is a reason they are so popular). Second, they sell like hot cakes when you’re ready to let go of them. If you don’t know which books are “hot cakes” then follow the Used Chinese Books (linked at the end of this post) and keep your eyes open.
  5. These days Little Man reads almost entirely ebooks for English and it’s saved us a ton of money. I’m hoping to move towards ebooks for Chinese as well in a year or so.

***Note*** For those that are not able to read Chinese, Taobao and JD may be difficult to navigate. The other websites listed below can be navigated in English by using Google Chrome to translate.

Simplified Chinese Books

Taobao 淘宝网 (China)

I used to buy entirely from Taobao BUT NOT ANYMORE. This has been the biggest change. Some readers who read my infamous post (lol) How to buy Chinese Books from Taobao may think I still get my books from there. Nope. Mostly I shop on…

JD 京东 (China)

JD ships directly to the US! And fast! I can usually get my books within a week, sometimes 5 days (pre-COVID). I use the JD app and it’s so easy I can even order stuff half asleep in the middle of the night. Also the shipping cost is paid up front so no hidden costs or missing/damaged items like Taobao.

The most challenging part about JD is setting up an account. I recommend using a computer for this, not smartphone.

Their shipping rate is variable and they have huge shipping discounts sometimes, 90% off or even free shipping! If you see a good deal on shipping then check out IMMEDIATELY as it may change the next hour. Most of the time though, their shipping is 70% off.


The prices on JD are similar to Taobao and much smoother process. This is why most of us have kissed Taobao goodbye!

Traditional Chinese Books

Books.com.tw 博客來 (Taiwan)

This is where I buy 80% of my Traditional Chinese books because of the huge selection (it’s like the Amazon of Taiwan), fast shipping (2-4 days from Taipei to Midwest!) and decent price on singleton books. They have seasonal sales throughout the year and always a sale on the 7th of each month where you get an additional 7-10% off.

You pay by credit card and the process is smooth and easy.

Shipping from Taiwan to US is EXPENSIVE and hence it does not make sense to buy big box sets from 博客來. If you are looking to buy, say, the entire set of Zorori or Magic Tree House you would get much better deals with the two sellers below.

Gloria’s Bookstore (based in US)

Gloria’s Bookstore is the probably the best place to buy big box sets, such as set of 36 Little Little Newton magazines, set of 60 Little Earth People, set of 20 hardcover Ghibli books, set of 60 Ferris Wheel and so on. These sets are soooooo heavy and hence freaking expensive to buy from 博客來 due to exorbitant shipping.

Gloria has very reasonable prices and she is really nice and responsive to questions. However, downside is you may have to wait 1-2 months for books on “pre-order”. Books that are “in stock” will ship out fairly quickly.

Pay by credit card or Apple Pay, PayPal etc.

Yo Baby Shop (based in US)

Yo Baby sometimes has excellent deals on big box sets as well. I’ve bought some books, board games, backpack etc. occasionally. Customer service is good and shipping is fast.

Pay by credit card or Apple Pay, PayPal etc.


You can also buy gently used books from the Used Chinese Books by Motherly Notes Facebook group. You might score some really good deals if you have lightning fast fingers. 😉 Quite honestly I have never bought on here but this is where I SELL all my books.

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7 years old, Audiobooks, Bilingual Journey, Home Library, Magazines

Chinese Learning Magazine with CD 康軒學習雜志

Hello friends! Wow, it’s been six months since I last blogged. 😛 Life has been pretty good, all things considered. Like many other families, we experienced some positive side effects of pandemic aka INCREASED CHINESE TIME! 😉

To be honest I have been getting lazier with Chinese as my child gets older (entering 2nd grade). Here are the list of things I used to do but no longer do. Oops.

  1. Fun, crafty things
  2. Read aloud to him
  3. Have him read aloud to me daily
  4. Practice Chinese character writing

On the bright side, here are some things that I do do.

  1. Large group of Chinese-speaking friends (I have never spoke so much Chinese in my life! My FB Messenger is 90% Chinese text messages – a pretty crazy development for me since I’ve avoided Chinese for most of my life)
  2. Provide a steady supply of Chinese books through my own acquisition and exchanging with above mentioned friends
  3. Randomly ask him to read aloud some pages to ensure that he can read well in Simplified and Traditional. Which thankfully he does. 
  4. Play audio CDs in the car (which is what this post is about)
  5. Speak mostly Chinese to him

This summer Little Man fell in love with Kang Xuan magazines. He listened to 1-2 a day, every day, and we went through them really fast. Good thing I had them stockpiled! 

From my parent point of view, the best thing about this magazine are:

  1. READ ALOUD AUDIO CD. Yay! No need for me to read aloud in my non-fluent, choppy Chinese (I really struggle to read non-fiction).
  2. Large variety of topics – More info below.
  3. Blend of cute and realistic illustrations
  4. Exposes kids to age-appropriate news and current affairs, such as wearing masks, wildfires in Australia, seasonal holidays like Chinese New Year, Dragon Boat festival etc. The monthly magazines are themed appropriately for the current season/holidays.
  5. Relevant and interesting articles for the target age group. This saves a parent soooo much time, not having to research whether there is inappropriate content. Since my son is entering 2nd grade, we have the magazine for 1st-3rd grade. There’s also a Preschool version and 4th-6th grade version.

Inside Pages

You get TWO issues monthly for the 1st-3rd grade version. Each issue comes with the magazine itself (about 50 pages), an audio CD, a workbook, a parent guide and sometimes additional materials like comic book, craft, etc.


Each magazine is laid out pretty similarly. 

It starts with several themed articles, usually one about animals/plants, one about the theme of the month, one about culture/history (spotlight on a different country each issue), one on health/medicine. Very diverse!


I love the exposure to current affairs and news in a kid-friendly way:


Following that, there is a Math, Science, or Famous Person comic:


Following that, a short story of 8-10 pages. The story is usually Fiction or about a famous person:


Following that, they have a classical Chinese poem or explain the origin of an idiom:


And finally, my son’s favorite part, THE COMIC! The comic features Red Bean, Green Bean characters and Professor Why, and usually teaches a moral such as being punctual, completing your homework on time, etc:


Subscription Info

For U.S. subscribers, click these links to subscribe from C-Stems:

  • Preschool version (12 issues/year)
  • 1st-3rd grade version (24 issues/year)
  • 4th-6th grade version (24 issues/year)

You can use my coupon code ‘handsonchinesefun’ to receive an additional welcome gift. 

Note that you can also buy from Kang Xuan or 博客來 in Taiwan, however it does not come with CDs. Instead you scan the QR code to listen. I have tried this option and found the QR code very choppy, cutting off frequently. EXTREMELY frustrating. Which is why I’m back to subscribing from C-Stems. This is my honest opinion and I’m not being paid to say this!


Here is my video reviewing the different elementary magazines on the market (Kang Xuan, Ciaohu, Future Children):


You can comment or send me a FB message on my FB page: Hands On Chinese Fun

7 years old, Audiobooks, Bilingual Journey, Chinese Resources, Home Library, Magazines

Comparison of Chinese Magazines

Chinese magazines. They are soooooooo good and have been a lifesaver for me these days since I’ve been quite busy. If you’re a busy/lazy parent, magazines are your friend!

The best thing about Chinese magazines, in my opinion, is that they come with audio read-aloud CDs by native speakers. They are fantastic quality and provide a lot of advanced, non-fiction vocabulary input.

We spend about 2 hours in the car every Saturday commuting to various activities so I just pop a new CD in every week. By my son’s request, we usually listen to each CD at least twice. This is my quick and easy way to learn new words together with my son.

The magazines are themed and the topics change with the season/holidays. For example, since it is now Fall and we have two fruiting apple trees in our yard, it was perfect timing to listen to the Apples issue.

If you’re wondering which magazine would be a good fit for your kids, I compiled a table below to compare them:


Factors to Consider:

  1. Publisher After buying thousands of Chinese books, I’ve found that I have very strong preference for two publishers which are 康軒 and 親子天下 and I tend to stick with them. Conversely, there are some publishers I stay away from. I won’t mention which ones since I’ll probably really offend some people LOL.
  2. Content – This is probably the most important thing! What are you looking for in a magazine? I prefer a mix of current affairs (e.g. culture, geography, history, news) and science so I can expose my son to a wide range of vocabulary.
  3. Illustrations – My son tends to gravitate towards books with “cute” illustrations. And yes, he really loves comics.
  4. CD – All the magazines come with read aloud CDs that are fun and engaging. Far better than my own accented (and possibly erroneous) read aloud.
  5. Activity books – Honestly we don’t usually do these because ain’t got no time for crafts. But I know some kids really love their stickers and crafts.

Sample Pages

小行星幼兒誌 Little Planet Magazine

little star1
Image from c-stems.com

little star 2
Image from c-stems.com

I was really surprised by how much my son liked this magazine, I think possibly because he is familiar with 親子天下 books and this magazine by the same publisher has similar illustrations, style and voices. He also really enjoyed the activity book that had a detective theme and you solve the clues to find the culprit.

Link to subscribe here

新小小牛頓 Little Newton Magazine

My first impression of this magazine is that it’s very “old” but again I was very surprised by how much my son likes it and has retained information from it. This is the most “sciency” of the three mags. We also enjoy the CDs very much! I heard the DVDs that come with it are also very good but we have not watched them.

This magazine is no longer in circulation so you can only buy old issues.

Links to buy:

康軒學習雜誌 Kang Xuan Top945 Magazine

Image from c-stems.com

Image from c-stem.com

This magazine is my personal favorite. My son loves the illustrations and comics but content is sometimes too advanced for him. This is not surprising since it is a 1st to 3rd grade magazine so I feel that it will continue to grow with him. I love the wide range of topics it covers and exposure to culture of different countries, especially Taiwan. When we went to Taiwan this past summer, my son was already very familiar with many Taiwanese foods, landmarks, places of interest, etc. due to reading this magazine.

Link to subscribe here

Other Reviews

Disclaimer: I was provided a copy of 康軒學習雜誌 初階版 and 小行星幼兒誌 by C-stems.com (official distributor of these magazines in the USA) for review. Opinions are my own. 


6 years old, Audiobooks, Home Library, Kinder Reads, Learning to Read, Magazines, Reviews

Review: 康軒學習雜誌 Top945 Learning Magazine for 3-12 y.o.

There are several Chinese children’s magazines out there but my personal favorite is Top945 康軒學習雜誌.

Magazines are better than books?!

Did you know that childhood experts recommend magazines over books? Magazines provide diverse knowledge and a wide variety of texts like fiction, non-fiction, poems, and interactive content.

Why we love Top945 Learning Magazine:

#1. Well-rounded vocabulary and General Knowledge – I want him to be able to converse on a wide variety of topics in Chinese, not just his limited interests of superheroes, potty jokes and all that useless stuff. 😝


#2. Mix of real photos and drawings – My son loves the cute characters of Doudou, Nini and Professor Why. They really hold his attention and interest!


#3. TWO magazines per month for the elementary versions – This basically covers all of my non-fiction needs and is good value-for-money.

#4. Audio CD with every issue!! – Fabulous way for child to acquire advanced vocabulary especially if parent is not a native speaker.

#5. Ideal for busy families – We listen to this in the car and it makes our car trips so so enriching and productive. I don’t need to do anything except hit the play button. Yay for lazy parenting! 😉

The accompanying CD is REALLY REALLY GOOD. Worth its weight in gold in my opinion. My picky son who refused to listen to anything except 米小圈 for the last several months enjoys listening to them. The speakers have perfect enunciation and are very engaging.

Sample clip from CD (PreK-K version). The voices are younger and cuter.

Sample clip from CD (1st-3rd grade version). The voices are more mature and the language more advanced compared to the clip above:

We are listening to them for the second time now because there’s lots of idioms and complex vocabulary that he only understood about 50% of it the first time. The second time listening, his comprehension increased to 70-80%. I explained some key words to him in English as well. I always love materials that are challenging because that’s how kids learn and improve right??

Little Man is not able to read this magazine by himself yet (aside from the comics), so I am having him listen to build up vocabulary. Next year when he is in first grade, I plan on having him read it so he can learn how to read informational text, towards the long-term goal of reading newspapers as an adult.

***I just found out only the US version of Top945 still comes with CD. If you order from Taiwan it will not come with CD but you can download MP3 from their website. ***

Look Inside

Click on the images below to see the inside pages. Full magazines are available online so you can see every page! Wow.

PreK-Kindergarten version 學前版:prek

1st-3rd grade version 初階版:1st

4th-6th grade version 進階版:4th

Supplemental Teaching Materials

Top945 comes with additional materials such activity books, board games and hands-on activities etc., (Click here for details on what is included with your subscription: PreK-K version, 1st-3rd grade, 4th grade and up).

Annual subscription comes with activity books, hands-on toys, board games, etc.

Free Gifts!

Exclusive free gifts for my readers: The first 30 subscribers will receive two of the following comic books with MP3 CDs (worth $30)! These are additional to the other free books you will receive when you subscribe to 1 year or more.

These comic books are AMAZING. The quality of the paper and the audio CDs are top notch and my son absolutely loves them. Really recommend to increase kids’ interest in reading Chinese books.

{Click here for review and sample pages of 紅豆綠豆碰 comic books}

U.S. Subscribers

Click on the links below to subscribe to Top945 Learning Magazine (payment via PayPal). In the comments section, type in “Hands On Chinese Fun” to receive your free comic books!

C-Stems is the official distributor of Top945 and other children magazines like Ciaohu and Little Newton in the USA. An issue of Top945 was provided for review. 

Questions or comments? Contact me via my Facebook page!

Home Library, Preschool Reads

Chinese Home Library: 4 Different Types of Chinese Books

Did you know there are many different types of Chinese books? I sure didn’t! Ten months and thousands of dollars 🤑 later, I am now much savvier.

Here is a brief overview of the different types of books for preschool to early elementary. I am referring to Simplified Chinese books because that’s what I use. The following information may or may not apply to Traditional Chinese books, which differ in many ways.

1. Picture Books (绘本)

These books are designed for parents to read to their children (亲子阅读). Picture books are large and have colorful pictures on every page accompanied by a few lines of text. The print tend to be small and without pinyin because it’s assumed that it will be read by adults.


{See my list of 10 Best Picture Books for Preschoolers}

Why you need these:

These books have rich storylines, beautiful illustrations, and are great for parent-child bonding when you read together and discuss the pictures. They expose your child to higher-level vocabulary, idioms and content.

2. Readers

These books are designed for children to read to themselves. The font is usually large and they use easy basic characters like the most common 500 characters. The stories tend to be simple and rather lame, because really, you can’t write much exciting stuff using only 500 characters.

You can tell a book is a reader if it includes flash cards or tells you it has X number of characters on the cover. They are also usually called 我会读,我会自己读, or something along those lines. Most readers tend to be small, thin paperbacks because they are for little hands to hold.

Why you need these:

These easy readers serve the primary purpose of helping children increase sight word recognition, and build confidence and fluency/speed. They teach a few new words per story with lots of repetition so kids remember the new words.

Don’t spend too much of your time reading these to your kids. Compare a sentence in a reader “乖乖兔也生气了” (Good Bunny is also angry) to a sentence from a picture book “找到球了,入室盗窃案好像也一起侦破了” (After we find the ball, the burglary case will likely be solved as well). Which one has advanced vocabulary and sentence structure that you want your kids to learn? The answer should be obvious.

3. Bridge Books (桥梁书)

I consider these simple chapter books because they are wordier with fewer pictures. These books are designed for children to read to themselves to practice reading so they can eventually read chapter books without any pictures. There are bridge books both with and without pinyin, and they vary in length and difficulty.

The size of these books tend to be around the size of novels:

Why you need these:

Although these are designed for children to read to themselves, I do read them to my son occasionally to train his comprehension to have less reliance on pictures. I also want to familiarize him with the story so it’ll be easier for him to read them in the future.

The guideline I follow (from the acclaimed The Read Aloud Handbook) is to read to your child at two years higher than his current level. Since my son’s Chinese level is at about 4 years old, I try to read aloud to him books suitable for 6 years old. In English, I read to him chapter books that are for 2nd-4th grade.

Eventually the goal is for him to be able to read these bridge books to himself.

4. Books with Pinyin

All books with pinyin are basically written for kids to independently read to themselves. The books from China do not come with pinyin after around 2nd grade.

Why you need this:

Books with pinyin are an important step to independent reading. Since most preschool-early elementary kids only know several hundred characters, a far cry from the 3000 characters you need to know to read fluently, they need pinyin to read more interesting and advanced books. Kids in China read books with pinyin until they know several thousand characters in 2nd grade, at which point they transition to reading books without pinyin.

In summary…

If you’re wondering which of the four types of Chinese books you need, the answer is YOU NEED THEM ALL. As stated above, they serve different but equally important functions. Make sure you have a good selection of all four types.

As a general rule of thumb, spend more of your time reading advanced stuff to your kid and let your kid read the easy readers/pinyin stuff to himself. This is true for any language.

The other thing to keep in mind is that each of these types of books range in difficulty. Picture books range from extremely easy to extremely hard. Same for bridge books and pinyin books.

Don’t be discouraged even if you have an older child who barely understands Chinese. Ten months ago, my son didn’t know a single word of Chinese and now he is able to understand some bridge books like 屁屁超人. The way to rapidly increase comprehension is start with really easy books like 鼠小弟 Little Mouse series and to keep reading slightly harder books every day. I also do repeated reading with him, e.g. the first time we read it I might translate portions into English. Then second and third time we read it, I translate less and less until he can completely understand Chinese.

My home library has changed A LOT since I started building it about eight months back. I’ve put away some books that are too hard, and ordered more easier pinyin books for my son to read to himself since he’s been wanting to do that lately. We have about 500 books in his bedroom of varying type, level, and topic.

Questions? Comments? You can message me on Facebook or Instagram.

Home Library, Learning to Read, Preschool Reads

Chinese Home Library Part V: Finale

This morning Little Man completely out of the blue said “I really like my library mom, thanks for my library.” AWWW. 😊 Allow me to bask in this moment because just a few months ago he flat out refused to read any Chinese books!

Here’s how I organized the ~350 Chinese books and ~150 English books we currently have. We have far fewer English books since there are five awesome all-English libraries within 15 mins of our house.

We used to have just one 3-cube bookcase in his bedroom, mixed English and Chinese books, and completely overflowing. This was a really terrible set up because most of the Chinese books are paperbacks with very thin spines, meaning my son pulled everything off the shelf onto the floor to look for what he wanted. URGHHH!!! Also many books were overlooked because he just didn’t see them.

In our new organization system (that I just put in place yesterday!), the 3-cube bookcase is now entirely for English books in one corner of his room. He also got a nice comfy beanbag chair for Christmas which he loves.

On the other side of his room, I bought an Ikea Billy bookcase and 12 Samla bins for Chinese books. I have it set up like a typical USA classroom library, which is books organized by genre and level, and forward facing as much as possible so that it grabs the child’s attention. Now he can browse books by bin without pulling them all into a giant pile on the floor. WIN.

The bottom two shelves are 绘本 picture books (designed for adults to read to kids) and the top shelf are 桥梁书 readers (designed for kids to read to themselves). I got a 3-shelf bookcase because it’s the perfect height for him at 5 years old. Ideally I would love the picture books in bins facing out too, but… space constraints.

The picture books are generally arranged by height from tallest to shortest. My OCD self really wishes all books were the same size so they can look perfect, but alas. For the readers on the top shelf, they are sort of arranged by reading level from left to right, with Bin 8 being the easiest and Bin 11 the hardest. I think Bin 6 looks a little pathetic being half empty so I am looking to buy some more books to fill it up. 😛

A few people asked me for book recommendations so I’ve listed the books with the following rating scale.

  • R = Recommended
  • Ok = Books that are not the greatest but my kid has somewhat enjoyed and learned something from them
  • TBD = To be determined because we haven’t read them yet. HAHA.

Note: 95% of my books were purchased online from Taobao but I am not able to give you direct links to them as TB sellers sell out of items fast. Also the prices fluctuate quite a bit so search around for the best price. If you are interested in the books, please copy and paste the title in Chinese and enter it into TB search. Alternatively, you can also copy the image and do an image search.

Picture Books:


100层的巴士 The Hundred Decker Bus (R)

生气王子 The Angry Prince (R)

我变成一只喷火龙了 I Turned Into a Fire-Breathing Dragon (Ok)

帕拉帕拉山的妖怪 The Monster of Papa Pala Mountain (Ok)

过年啦 Chinese New Year (R)

首先由一个苹果 First There Was An Apple (R)

开车出发系列 Tram series (Ok) – Better suited for 2+

100层的房子系列 100 Story House series (Ok) – Better suited for 3+

Bin 2:


你看起来好像很好吃系列 Tyrannosaurus series (R)

青蛙弗洛格系列 Frog series (Ok)

小猪佩琦系列 Peppa Pig series (Ok)

Bin 3:


屁屁侦探系列 Butt Detective series (R)

可爱的鼠小弟系列 Little Mouse series (R)

Bin 4 and Bin 5: 


奇先生妙小姐系列 Mr. Men and Little Miss series (Ok) – Print quality is disappointing

Bin 6:




中国传统节日绘本系列 Chinese Holidays series (R)

上下五千年系列 5000 Year Chinese History series (TBD)

Bin 7:


爆笑虫子漫画系列 Larva comics series (Ok)

植物大战僵尸漫画 Plants vs. Zombies series (Ok)

闹闹漫画乐园系列 Nao Nao comics series (Ok)

Bin 8:

我会读系列 I Can Read series (R)

亲爱的小熊系列 Little Bear series (Ok)

笨狼的故事系列 Stupid Wolf series (Ok)

Bin 9:

青蛙和蟾蜍系列 Frog and Toad series (Ok)

我爱阅读 蓝色系列 I Love Reading Blue series (Ok) – Some people like this but I don’t. I ended up selling them.

Bin 10:

我爱阅读 黄色系列 I Love Reading Yellow series (Ok) – Some people like this but I don’t. I ended up selling them.

阅读123系列 Reading 123 series (R)

Bin 11: 

成语故事系列 Idiom stories series (NR)

十万个为什么系列 10,000 Why series (NR)

And finally… here is a bookcase in the basement that I refer to as my “dumping ground”. This is an old bookcase that I use to store books that are either too advanced or outgrown or books that are crap. We have a lot of books like Dr. Seuss and Elephant and Piggie that my son used to love but rarely touches anymore. So they get sent to this dumping ground for a year or so before they are purged. HAHA.


Read the rest of my Chinese Home Library blog posts:

A special THANK YOU to Guavarama for her Building a (Traditional Chinese) Chinese Library posts. They are so informative and I refer back to them frequently.

Questions? Feel free to contact me via Facebook or Instagram

Home Library, Online shopping

CHL Part IV: How to buy Chinese books from Taobao

This blog post was published on November 2017. There have been some changes since that time,  please scroll to the bottom to see my latest updates: 

I thought I was done buying Chinese books for a while since I just bought 259 last month… but… could I resist the BIGGEST SALE EVENT on November 11??

Of course not. 😛

So I bought another 26 books as shown below.


The total cost of books + shipping to USA was $55.80, or $2.15 per book. Compare to USA e-bookstores selling books for $7-$20. Buying from TB means you can get 4x as many books for your money!

A quick comparison of TB vs. USA e-bookstores:


  • Significant savings of at least 50-70%
  • Huge selection of books
  • BOOK SETS. You will save the most by buying box sets of I Can Read, Reading 123, Roald Dahl, Mi Xiao Quan, etc.


  • 2-3 weeks shipping time
  • More time consuming process
  • Issues such as counterfeit/lost/damaged items! However, you can minimize these by following the tips below.

FYI: I’m sharing my experience shipping to the USA because that’s where I live, but TB also offers global shipping to other countries like Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and Japan. Click to see shipping rates.

Before you start, please note:

  1. Taobao is a China website and every single word is in Chinese. While it is possible for non-speakers to navigate it, it will be very challenging.
  2. As with buying books in Singapore, you should always BUY IN BULK. It will not be worth your time or money to buy 1-2 books, as the minimum shipping fee is $13. The more you buy, the lower the shipping per item.
  3. You have to make two separate payments. The first payment is the cost of books (domestic shipping is usually free). When all your items have arrived at the warehouse, you pay for international shipping to your address. Cost of international shipping is based on weight. I buy mostly paperbacks (平装) and a few hardcovers (精装) to save on shipping.

Are you ready?? Buying from TB is not easy, but will save you hundreds (or thousands) in the long run.

Step 1. Register for a Taobao account. 

Use a computer to register for an account on World Taobao. If you experience problems with setting up your account, please refer to this article.

Step 2. Download the Taobao app. 

I prefer the app as it’s easy to browse, check delivery status, and get notifications.


Step 3. Change your location to USA.

When you do this, it will automatically convert and display prices in USD. Much easier than trying to convert RMB in your head.


Step 4. Browse and add items into your cart.

There are two ways to do this:

1) Browse by bookstore

I’ll recommend these bookstores because I’ve had good experiences, they have high ratings of 4.8/5, and large inventories of books. You can browse by category, age, sale items, or search the storefront.

当当网官方旗舰店 – Dangdang has a huge selection of books but they are not as responsive to messages like the smaller sellers




2) Search for item in the search bar

There are usually a lot of sellers selling the same item. I filter by 天猫 (TMall) and 销量 (sales volume). I always choose TMall when if available because they are bigger businesses and accept Visa. The prices may be slightly higher than regular TB, but it’s completely worth it for peace of mind knowing that you’re buying from a real business and not some guy peddling fake goods.


Of course, you should always read the reviews about the item and seller. I suggest you buy from as few sellers as possible. Less trouble that way, and you get free domestic shipping too.

Step 5. Confirm the items in your shopping cart and check out.

Make sure you have the correct address and mail carrier before you click “提交订单”. You cannot change it after you click this button! You’ll have to cancel and do everything all over.

Domestic shipping is usually free if you meet a minimum purchase and it will show “免邮” at checkout. You have three choices for your international mail carrier and the default is EMS. I choose USPS because I had a bad experience with EMS in the past.


Step 6. Payment by Alipay.

After you place your order, it will show up in the tab 待付款 (awaiting payment). You have to pay by Alipay, which is the Chinese version of Paypal. Set up an Alipay account and enter your credit card information. Don’t worry, this is just a one-time annoyance because you won’t have to enter credit card information again in the future, just your Alipay pin. Obviously, don’t forget your pin number!


Step 7. Wait for items to arrive at warehouse.

I’m pretty impressed with the speed of Chinese sellers and couriers. Items are dispatched within hours and arrive at the warehouse in 2-3 days. If there are any issues or questions, the seller will message you via the app. They often send a message to you to confirm your order before they mail it.

It takes a couple more days for items to “入库” (be entered into the warehouse system). Extremely detailed tracking information can be found by clicking on the 待收货 delivery van.


Once all your items have been entered into the system “正常入库”, you will have the option to consolidate and pay for international shipping.

If you have any prohibited items (e.g. electronics, magnets, liquids), they will be rejected by the warehouse. They will text you (in Chinese of course) and ask you how to proceed. You can tell them to mail it back to seller to return it 退货.


Step 8. Pay for international shipping.

International shipping is based on weight of the package. To give you an idea, my package of 26 paperback picture books cost $29.57 USD in shipping. I got a discount of 36 RMB this time and I don’t even know why. 11-11 promotion maybe?

After you click “确认订单”, your order will show up on the awaiting payment tab. Pay by Alipay again, same as Step 6.


Step 9. And you’re done!

Check your app over the next few days to make sure your package is on merry way to the USA. Expect it be stuck at the port of entry for days and days for inspection. After inspection is cleared, it will finally make its way to where you live, YAY!

Step 10. Wait for it to arrive

It usually takes about 2-3 weeks total from when I first order the books to get them in my hands.

That’s it!

Congratulations, you successfully navigated a Chinese website AND saved yourself lots of $$! Seriously, one of the many benefits of being bilingual is being able to shop on TB. 😆

Total books: 26

Cost of books: $24.57

Cost of shipping: $31.23

Total cost: $55.80 ($2.15 per book)

11/29/17 Update:
Delivery arrived yesterday!!

I wasn’t able to get much tracking info from TB app, it didn’t update the tracking once it arrived in the USA. However I was able to track the package on the 佳成USPS website and it showed the transit path through different US cities before finally arriving at my house.

I’ve used USPS several more times since and have had satisfactory experiences. I will continue to use them.

April 2018 Update:

Some readers had some questions so I thought I would post a FAQ here.

FAQ: How much does shipping cost?

Obviously I have no way of knowing exactly how much your shipping will cost, but as an estimate, expect to pay around the cost price of the books. E.g. If you paid $50 for books, you will pay about $50 for shipping to USA. The more books you buy, the cheaper your shipping per item will be. Do not buy just 1 or 2 books because you will pay a minimum of $13 shipping per package, completely not worth it for a couple books.

Here’s a recent order I placed:

Total books: 45 (14 hardcover, 31 paperback)

Cost of books: $74.96

Cost of shipping: $78.16

Total cost: $153.12 ($3.40 per book)

FAQ: Shopping on Taobao is soooooo intimidating!!! AHHHH!!!!! 

It really is not that bad. It’s only hard the first time. Every time after that it’s super easy and you can even place orders on your phone in the middle of the night half asleep. I do this all the time. 😛 If you can read basic Chinese, you can do it! Just try it with a small order of around $20-$30 to test the waters.

FAQ: What items can I buy on Taobao?

There is a long list of prohibited items that you cannot ship internationally. For example, USPS would not ship a Bunny Story Machine 火火兔 because it contains a battery, and I had to pay 12 RMB (about $2) to have them mail it back to return it. In general I just stick to buying books and occasionally games/toys.

If you would like to purchase the Bunny Story Machine or other electronics or sensitive items, you have to use an agent such as Viatang, Bhiner, etc. Of course you have to pay them an agent fee plus miscellaneous fees.

FAQ: Does USPS repackage for you?

NO NO and NO. They do not check that your order is accurate or undamaged or anything at all. Don’t even ask me why USPS in China apparently cannot afford a box because they literally wrap everything up in plastic and duct tape and mail it to you:

For this reason, I strongly caution you against ordering anything that might be fragile. If you are ordering something with a cardboard box, do not expect the box to arrive in good condition. Mentally prepare yourself that whatever you order may be destroyed during shipping.

FAQ: Are the books from TB of poor quality?

It really depends! Some of them are EXCELLENT quality, even better than English books. Others are soooo awful, like they were printed by a color printer running out of ink. If you follow me on Facebook, I’ll try to keep it updated on the books I have. I suggest you read the reviews all look at the real photos from buyers instead of the stock photos which may be completely fake.

FAQ: When are TB sales?

Their biggest sales of the year occur on 11/11 and 12/12, but there is generally a sale once a month on various dates. What I do is add everything into my cart and wait for the next sale to check out. The savings can be quite significant! For example, the 3D 西游记 book goes on sale all the time, from 250 CNY to 150 CNY ($35 USD to $25 USD).

If you check your cart every so often, they will let you know of upcoming sales. E.g. right now it shows that on 4/18 those items in blue will go on sale. In addition to that, be sure to click on the “领卷” (coupon) button in the corner and it will show you store coupons, e.g. 5 CNY off a 68 CNY purchase, 10 CNY off a 99 CNY purchase, 20 CNY off 199 CNY purchase.

FAQ: Can I pay by credit card?

Yes, the first time you pay, you enter your Visa credit card information to Alipay (Chinese version of PayPal). Every time after that you don’t have to enter your credit card anymore, just your Alipay PIN number. Some readers told me their credit cards were declined, which could be due to fraud prevention. Call your bank to ask them to approve it or try a different card.

November 2018 update:

One of my blogger friends over at Motherly Notes just had a VERY SUCCESSFUL experience using EMS 中山 as her forwarder. Everything arrived in good shape in less than one week to East Coast USA! So I think they have improved massively since I wrote this blog post, so I’m going to give them a shot for my next order instead of my usual USPS.

See her unboxing video below:

Questions? Contact me via my Facebook page.

Home Library, Online shopping, Preschool Reads

Chinese Home Library Part III: Using an Agent to Buy Books (Singapore)

As the title states, this blog post is about sourcing Chinese books at the lowest cost possible. While I do love bookstores, buying 250 books off the shelf would cost at least $1500 USD. Not to mention they likely wouldn’t have all the books I want, which means a heck lot of time and inconvenience running to multiple stores. Not feasible.

Instead I chose to order online from China, which is both convenient (done long distance from the USA) and affordable ($340 USD for 259 books). However, it is not that easy and took me forever to figure out how to do it. A big thank you to my friend LY 😘 for helping me navigate the complicated world of Chinese e-commerce.

(By the way, this entire post is only applicable for buying books in Singapore 🇸🇬 or Malaysia 🇲🇾. If you don’t live in or plan to visit these countries, then this post will not help you. I have ordered books from China shipped to the USA, but that’s a whole different story.)

What you need to know about buying books from China, summarized in 6 words:



#1: Bulk Buying

The thing about EZBuy Prime (details below) is that shipping will cost $2.99+$8 per order, whether you buy 1 book or 100 books or 1000 books. Obviously then you should buy as many books as possible to get more bang for your buck.

Keep in mind that shipping charges apply per order. If you check out five times, you will pay the fees five times. Be smart and make one giant order.

#2: Plan in Advance

If you are like me, living overseas and wanting to pick up books during a trip back to Singapore, then plan to order two months in advance of your trip. This allows for sufficient shipping time (could take a month sea shipping), and so you can take advantage of promo codes (available once or twice a month) to save even more.

Before you start…

Make a list of all the books you want to buy. I had 20 sets of books I wanted to order, covering a good selection of picture books (for me to read to my son) and readers (for him to practice reading to himself). Refer to my post here if you’re not sure how to make a book list.

Once you are armed with your book list, continue below.

Step 1. Understand EZBuy

You are probably wondering what EZBuy is if you’ve never used it before. EZBuy is an agent that will help you buy from Taobao (e-commerce giant) in China, and it is in English which makes things that much easier. They will take care of handling issues, which are bound to happen (see Step 11 below). All prices shown on EZBuy are in Singapore dollars (SGD).

I used EZBuy once before and was very satisfied with their service. Their shipping cost is also reasonable and even cheaper than buying from TB directly. EZBuy was recommended to me by several friends and seriously, it’s awesome.

What is complicated about it is that there are two types of EZBuy service: Prime and Buy-For-Me, and chances are you will need both. Read on.

Step 2. Download both EZBuy and Taobao apps

I prefer to browse using my phone but you can also do it on your computer.
Step 3. Register for EZBuy and Taobao (optional) accounts

This step is easier to do on a computer rather than phone. You will need a Singapore phone number to register for EZBuy as they will send you verification codes and other stuff. (I registered using my brother’s Singapore phone number and had him text me the codes.)

Step 4. Search for your desired items on EZBuy and add it into the Prime cart if Prime is available

Prime is the cheapest way of shipping books from China and you should most definitely choose Prime if it is available. Click “add to cart” and toggle the button to Prime. Out of the 20 sets of books I wanted, 13 were available on Prime.

If everything you want is available on Prime, then lucky you, you can skip Step 5 and go directly to Step 6.


Step 5. Cut and copy links from Taobao to EZBuy

If you’re not too picky then you could just stick to Prime books and skip this part. But I had my heart set on a few series like 奇先生妙小姐 Mr. Men and Little Miss, 鼠小弟 Little Mouse, and 我爱阅读 readers and had to have them.

For items that are not available on Prime, you can have EZBuy buy them for you, hence the name “Buy-for-Me”. Open the TB app to search for the item you want. There will likely be many sellers selling the same product so read the reviews carefully to see which sellers are reliable and sell authentic 正版 books! (In case you didn’t know, there are TB sellers that sell “fake” books. Beware of prices that are too low compared to competitors. )

After you have located the item you want, copy and paste the link from TB to EZBuy.


After copying the link, hop back to the EZBuy app. A message will automatically appear asking if you want to buy the item. Click OK to add it to your shopping cart.


Step 6. Wait for a promotional period

Confirm that you have all the items you want in your Prime cart and Buy-for-Me Shopping Cart. Be ready for check out, but do not check out yet! This is because EZBuy has fairly frequent promotions. For example, they ran a Halloween special for free agent fee + 15% off shipping from October 29-31. By waiting to place my order during this period, I saved $36 SGD ($26 USD). 👍


Sign up for their mailing list or check their website frequently for the next promo.

Step 7. Sign up for EZBuy Prime membership

Once you hit the promo period, sign up for Prime membership by clicking “Join Prime”. Since I am making a one-time purchase, I got the trial membership which is $9.90 for 5 days. If you live in Singapore, the annual membership for $99 might be worth it for you.

Step 8. Checking out

It’s finally time to check out! Confirm that all the items in your cart are correct. Items may be sold out or the price may have increased drastically. This happened to me for 2 items. 😬 Don’t worry, just search for a replacement. There are hundreds of TB sellers all selling the same product.

You will have to do two separate check outs:


The total cost =Cost of books + $2.99 + $8 (Delivery fee to your address. Waived if you pick up the package yourself from a collection center) + 7% sales tax + 4% agent fee (Waived during promo) + 3% credit card fee (Waived if you do a Singapore bank transfer). 

Basically, expect to pay an extra 15% in miscellaneous fees.

img_0456Buy-For-Me Shopping Cart:

The total cost =Cost of books + 4% agent fee (Waived during promo) + shipping cost based on weight of books (15% off during promo) + 3% credit card fee. Notice the shipping cost is zero at check out and not computed until later. img_0455

Step 9. Credit card payment

This step sounds so easy, right? Wrong. If you are a USA buyer like me, very likely your credit card transactions will NOT go through due to fraud prevention. I suppose I should be glad that U.S. banks are so vigilant but I actually got pretty annoyed when card after card got declined. Fret not. Call the phone number listed on the back of your credit card, verify that it’s you making the purchases and ask them to FFS please authorize it. Once Chase authorized EZBuy (listed as 65daigou), all transactions went through after that.

I also found that I was not able to pay via the app, but could do so via the EZBuy website. Do not ask me why.

Step 10. Pay for shipping for Buy-For-Me items

You do not pay for shipping for the books in the Buy-for-Me shopping cart at check out. It is calculated ~3-5 business days later when the items arrive at EZBuy’s warehouse in China and they weigh the package. Check your EZBuy app over the next few days and they will let you know when your items arrive. Once all the items have arrived, consolidate it into one package and pay for shipping.

FYI my shipping cost was $60 SGD (or $45 USD). This sounds like a lot, but it averages to only $0.25 per book since it was for 179 books. Which goes back to what I was saying about BUYING IN BULK.

Step 11: Problem solve 

Problems such as lost/damaged/wrong items are pretty common when buying from TB. Thankfully EZBuy will take care of them for you, which is why I ❤️ them. They will notify you via the app and you can easily text back in English.

This time, out of 20 items ordered, two of them had issues. Issue #1 was that TB seller increased the price before EZBuy could purchase it for me. In this case I decided to proceed with the order and “top up” the extra few dollars.


Issue #2 as shown below. I decided to cancel this order and EZBuy refunded my money very quickly. I then ordered from a different seller.img_0472

And now all my books are on their way to Singapore, where they will await my pickup in December. Yay!

In summary…
Total number of books = 259

Cost of books = $370 SGD ($285 USD)

Cost of shipping and misc. charges = $76 SGD ($55 USD)

Total cost = $446 SGD ($340 USD)

Cost per book = $1.72 SGD ($1.30 USD)

Obviously, $1.30 per book is FAR less than buying from any bookstore or e-bookstore. Which makes this entire ordeal well worth it. 🙂

With this hefty purchase, I’m confident our home library will be well stocked. But I’m sure I will still pick up some more books from brick-and-mortar stores such as Grassroots Book Room, Maha Yu Yi, and of course Popular Bookstore, because books are awesome.

Can’t wait to check out this beautiful bookstore! @Grassroots Book Room

Stay tuned for more episodes of my Chinese Home Library series. Like and follow my Facebook page to stay updated.