some other parts of the world, Thailand’s media industry is thriving, with
publishing doing especially well. Pass any newsstand or bookshop in the country
and you will spot heaving shelves packed with hundreds of colourful local and international
publications, sitting amid Manga comic books, novels and reference titles. Then
there are all the usual travel and gossip magazines, as well as some
wonderfully weird publications (Lovely Pet, anyone?).
while Thailand’s northern city of Chiang Mai is well known for having more
second-hand bookshops than bars, Bangkok has rarely been seen as a stop for
may change as Bangkok takes on the title of World Book Capital for 2013. It will be the world’s
13th book capital, following in the footsteps of Yerevan, Armenia (2012) and Madrid, Spain -- the
first Book Capital in 2001.
Director-General Irina Bokova said that the city was awarded the honour for being
“community-focused” and for encouraging “the development of reading for all”. And
Bangkok has more than its fair share of places to partake in this literary
city’s retail mega malls serve English and Thai readers especially well with
smart, well laid-out bookstores like Japanese bookstore chain Kinokuniya and Asia Books in the Siam Paragon mall, the largest English
language bookstore chain in Thailand. With their comfy chairs,
air-conditioning, hardwood floors and useful computer terminals, these large
stores make browsing a pleasure and can easily compete with the US retail chain
Barnes & Noble or the UK’s Waterstones.
of second-hand bargains are well-served by friendly bookstores like Dasa Books on Sukhumvit Road – which
offers more than 16,000 books in many different languages. The coffee corner
serves a mean chocolate brownie and is a good place to curl up with a book. For
less of a bookstore and more of a library experience, bookworms head to the
sweet, petite Library Café (Sukumvit 24; 66-0-22-592-878) which teams a chic modernist
layout with a soothing atmosphere and
has fast become the place in Bangkok to hunker down for some quality reading
time, coffee in hand. The owners proudly, and actively, encourage lounging,
with free wi-fi and retro 1950s-style comfy furniture.
more traditional setting of Neilson
Hays Library, located in the heart of Silom, Bangkok’s business district, is
especially notable on the city’s literary scene as it has become home to WordPlay, Bangkok’s
first literary festival -- now an annual event after launching in March 2011.
WordPlay features talks and workshops with prominent local and international writers
and poets like Philip Cornwel-Smith, author of the book Thai Hybrid, and Dean
Barrett, author of the book Writing on Asia.