BANGKOK — A decade ago, when Kindle was on the rise, Kaweewut Wuttiwibhu thought e-reading would spell the end of physical bookshops like his own. But Dasa Book Café still thrives as an established hub of Bangkok book lovers, especially those seeking English reading.
“Thais, particularly the younger generations, are reading more English-language books,” co-owner Kaweewut, 45, said Tuesday. “It may be a trend for things analogue.”
The charm of Dasa, meaning slave or servant in Sanskrit, is that you can resell the books that you buy. Customers are spoilt for choice by a selection of some 15,000 volumes.
Kaweewut believes the demand for English-language books in Bangkok is growing as more Thais learn English from social media. Whatever’s behind the trend, Kaweewut and his business partner, Donald Gilliland, welcome it – it’s good for the shop, which has been open since 2004.
General fiction and guidebooks can be found on the ground floor, while mystery, children’s, history, politics and non-fiction populate the first floor. Horror, true crime, sports, philosophy, psychology, nature, and language books are found on the third floor.
Surprise finds included a collection of papers written by former US President Lyndon B Johnson, former US President Jimmy Carter’s White House diary, and a 1971 book, “Thailand: Land of the Free,” written by expat James Basche.
Buyers can sell back purchased books at 50 percent of the paid price if they use the money to buy more books at the shop, or at 40 percent of the paid price if they want to keep the cash. Guidebooks can’t be resold.
Books can only be resold within six months after the date of purchase, a period that was shortened from a previous rule of one year. Kaweewut explained that some customers handled books mercilessly, and he had to refuse beaten books and books that had clearly been plunged into the sea or a swimming pool.
Dasa also carries some titles in French, German, Scandinavian, and Finnish. Prices range from 50 to 3,000 baht, although most books are priced around 200 baht. Used books are usually priced at half the price of new books, Kaweewut explained.
Dasa Book Café is open everyday from 10am to 8pm. It is located between Sukhumvit Soi 26 and 28.