10 Monday Sep 2012

Books and Bookstores

This past June I became aware of how challenging it is to find books in Phnom Penh.   I’ll start by describing how this realization came about and the story went like this.

The movie Hunger Games came out couple months before this summer.  I had friends who traveled to Singapore and watched the movie.  Upon their return, we met up at work and as usual we talked about things we’ve done over the weekend and so forth.  Hunger Games was all everyone was raving about.  Some had mixed feelings about the movie.  I dare not to make any personal comment, knowing that I want to get to the bottom of this whole fuss.  When the daily casual conversation ends, I brought out my computer and immediately went straight to google.  HUNGER GAMES, I wrote and millions of links popped up.  IMDB was my first selection of those links.  As usual in IMDB, the author name, a short synopsis, actor and actress names, and then the preview.  Preview, it was.  I clicked on it and then a small rectangular box lit up.  2 min movie trailer was loading, anxiously as I were, I read through the summary.  Two minutes later, I closed my browser and a perplexity came across.  I didn’t get what the whole fuss is all about still.  Then at then moment, I knew I needed to watch this movie, but better yet, I wanted to read the book first.  Later that evening, I stopped by Monument Bookstore on Norodom Blvd on my way home.  I didn’t want to waste too much time scanning for the book so I immediately asked the cashier for assistance.  After typing something into his computer, the cashier had told me that Book 1 is unavailable but Book 2 and 3 of the trilogy is available.  My reaction suddenly changed from a calm customer to a somewhat-bothered, annoyed customer.   I shook my head and said “thank you for your help, and please contact me once Book 1 shipment has arrived”.   The cashier took my number, although I do not expect a high hope that the book will arrive any time soon.

Two days later, I went by Boston Bookstore, an used bookstore on Street 140, thinking that I may be lucky there in finding Book 1.  The same faith, no Book 1 there either.  Eventually Monument Bookstore carried Book 1 and I made my purchase of all three books.

Within Phnom Penh city perimeter, there are a number of bookstores.   Let me remind you that a few bookstores also sell office supplies as well.

1. Monument Bookstore
+ sells international magazines, English novels, books.
+ similar to Barnes and Nobles

2. Boston Bookstore
+ sells used English books and novels

3. PBC Bookstore
+ sells office supplies and khmer books

4. IBC Bookstore
+ sells office supplies and khmer books