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The New Essential Guide to Electronics in Shenzhen

Everything you need to navigate the world's largest electronics market

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Andrew "bunnie" Huang’s classic sourcing tool for non-Mandarin speakers navigating the Hua Qiang electronics market, with completely updated maps, locations, and new chapters by Naomi Wu.

A Word from bunnie

When Naomi Wu contacted me about updating The Essential Guide to Electronics in Shenzhen, I was thrilled. There are few individuals better suited to the task – she’s bilingually fluent, technically-savvy, lives in Shenzhen, and thoroughly understands both the local and Western cultures. Her strengths round out my weaknesses: there is a certain irony in myself being the author of the guide, given that I am nearly illiterate in Mandarin. Although I am ethnically Chinese, I was born and raised in the Midwest of the US, which means I also had to bumble through numerous local cultural faux pas on the way to producing the guide.

Shenzhen is also a dynamic place, constantly rebuilding and re-inventing itself. I haven’t had the time to visit and walk the markets nearly as much as I’d like to, so having a true local like Naomi take over the guide makes a lot of sense. As a result, I’m very pleased to grant her an unlimited commercial license to make derivative works of the original guide (which was originally published under a Creative Commons BY-NC-SA 4.0 license that prohibits commercial derivatives without an explicit grant of permission).

Naomi’s revised text modernizes the guide. For example, when I wrote it, I still hadn’t mastered WeChat as a medium for business and payments. Her updated text covers this and many more important technical and cultural topics, such as digital etiquette and managing your reputation. I’m also pleased to see advice for women and LGBTQ+ visitors. Seeing the guide get a new life seven years later brings honor to the memory of my mentor and friend, Gavin Zhao, who succumbed to cancer after setting me on the path to writing the guide.

I’m excited to get my copy of The New Essential Guide to Electronics in Shenzhen and use it to re-discover one of my favorite destinations. I hope you will find it as eye-opening and useful as I do.

Happy Hacking,
-bunnie


Introduction to the New Guide

Since Andrew "bunnie" Huang wrote the first edition of his now classic The Essential Guide to Electronics in Shenzhen in 2016, the population of Shenzhen has grown by over 2 million people, the metro system has added over one hundred kilometers of track, and dozens of new stations have been opened. The city’s taxi and bus fleets were converted from gas to electric. The entirety of Huaqiangbei Road - the center of the electronic market district - has been torn up and replaced with a pedestrian boulevard. If you have ever visited Shenzhen in the past, you will find that the Shenzhen of today is noticeably different than the Shenzhen of 2016 that bunnie wrote about.

The New Essential Guide to Electronics in Shenzhen (left) and the original Guide (right)

While the original guide has held up extraordinarily well as tool to facilitate communications, in other matters, such as references to markets that have long since changed locations, or discussion of ATMs and actual paper business cards, it seems as quaint and nostalgic to a local Shenzhener as a discussion of payphones and fax machines might be to the resident of another city.

This new edition of the guide continues to be as bunnie envisioned it: a lean, practical tool for physically navigating the massive electronics markets of Huaqiangbei. Bunnie writes from the perspective of a regular visitor. I’ve added my own perspective as a local with experience sourcing parts, manufacturing products, and running hardware startups. I spoke with dozens of vendors about this guide and asked for their advice to market visitors. We also discussed their interactions and how they could go more smoothly for everyone involved. The maps in the guide have been completely updated since the 2016 edition. All locations have been verified, with the defunct ones removed and new ones added.

This new edition also recognizes that the line between the physical and online business of the markets has blurred. Working at Shenzhen speed now requires adeptly navigating both. As a lifelong Shenzhener and passionate ambassador for my city, I’ve updated this guide to help you do that.

Sample Pages

Preprint Sample

Availability

After the campaign, the book will continue to be available through Crowd Supply and perhaps through small booksellers, makerspaces, and electronics shops. It will not be available through Amazon and there will not be an electronic version. When sourcing components in Shenzhen, speed is critical, and it’s quicker to flip through physical pages. The market is full of visitors struggling to navigate mobile interfaces in order to make their needs known to busy vendors. It simply doesn’t work as well as walking up and pointing to large, clearly written Chinese of exactly what you want.

The other reason there won’t be an electronic edition is that unlike bunnie, I’m a Chinese national. My offering an app or download specifically for English-speaking hardware engineers to install on their phones would be… iffy. If at some point "I" do offer you such a thing, I’d suggest you not use it.

Manufacturing Plan

The book manuscript is finished, and the printer has reviewed it and confirmed it can be made without issue. I’m using the same company that made bunnie’s first edition, so they have all the specifications on hand and a reference copy. The book’s special construction as a sourcing tool (as opposed to a travel guide or dictionary) makes printing and assembly costs higher than normal books. Aside from the updated maps, locations, and a substantial amount of new content, I’ve removed the plastic business card pockets. They are anachronistic now, and removing them allows me to sell the book for the same price as the first guide - nearly eight years later, even with inflation. The only other real change in manufacturing the book is in the color of the cover and the additional pages to accommodate all the new content. The copy of the book shown on this page is a preprint sample. They didn’t have the right cream-colored card stock on hand for the sample, and the elastic band will be added to the production batch, but other than that, everything is satisfactory.

Fulfillment & Logistics

I will place the purchase order for the book as soon as the campaign is over, assuming the funding goal is hit. Printing and inspection will take one month. Shipping will take about one month from China to Crowd Supply’s fulfillment partner, Mouser Electronics, which will deliver to backers worldwide. Expect delivery of books early March. Additional information about Crowd Supply’s fulfillment service can be found in the Ordering, Paying, and Shipping section of their guide.

Risks & Challenges

Barring force majeure, I don’t anticipate any problems. Being physically on the ground in the manufacturing capital of the planet with a "deep bench" of local contacts solves many of the issues that typically confront crowdfunding campaigns.

In the Press

Ars Technica

Ars Technica

"Eating, tipping, LGBTQ+ advice, and Mandarin for 'Self-Flashing' and 'RGB.'"

Hackaday

Hackaday

"For years now the essential introduction to this world has come in the form of [Bunnie Huang]’s Essential Guide to Electronics in Shenzhen, a publication that unlocks the Chinese-speaking maze of vendors."

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Produced by Machinery Enchantress in Shenzhen, China.

Sold and shipped by Crowd Supply.

The New Essential Guide to Electronics in Shenzhen

Andrew “bunnie” Huang’s classic sourcing tool for non-Mandarin speakers navigating the Hua Qiang electronics market, with completely updated maps, locations, and new chapters by Naomi Wu.

$30 $8 US Shipping / $18 Worldwide

About the Team

Machinery Enchantress

Shenzhen, China

A consulting company focused on hardware development within the Shenzhen manufacturing ecosystem.

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