Thursday, July 16, 2009

Dasa Book Café – Bangkok’s favorite second-hand bookstore

Things to do in Bangkok
photo by Gaetan Lee

by thaistory on July 16, 2009

in Expat Life, People, Thai Culture, Things To Do in Bangkok

Written by Voicu Mihnea Simandan

New location

Bangkok is a good place to shop for books. Although there are many good bookstores that sell English-language books, my favourite second-hand bookstore is Dasa Book Café.

I know I’m not the only one who buys books at this friendly store, so, for those who haven’t found out yet, Dasa Book Café will be moving to a new location. But, don’t despair, the new location will be just a 5-minute walk from their current location. The bookshop will be moved only a few buildings down the street, on the same block. The new location will be closer to Soi 28, between the Peterson Piano Gallery and Sabai Thai Massage (see map below - click to enlarge).

books bangkok thailand 4 300x160 Dasa Book Café – Bangkok’s favorite second hand bookstore

The store phone number (02 661 2993) and e-mail address (info[at]dasabookcafe[dot]com and dasa[at]truemail[dot]co[dot]th) will remain the same. Parking will be available in Soi 26 (Bangchak Gas Station), Soi 28 (a dead-end soi) or at the Emporium Shopping Mall.

The current building has to be vacated by the first of September, so the store move will happen sometime in late August. The bookstore will be closed for only a day or two while moving books and shelves to the new location.

Shock sale

Meanwhile, Dasa Book Café is slashing the prices of books on the “Blowout” table outside the store. Normally, these books range from 29 to 99 baht, but until August 15 all books on that table and as well as in the boxes in the shop (ground floor and in the corner of the upstairs floor, near the window), will be only 19 baht each!

books bangkok thailand 3 Dasa Book Café – Bangkok’s favorite second hand bookstore

I’ve already taken advantage of this sale and spent a few hundred baht on some very good books. I urge you to do the same! The shop is open daily from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m.

The bookshop offers more than 14,000 used books in many languages. A book list is available online for download at the “Dasa”base page. All titles are filed alphabetically thus making it easier to find what you want. All books in stock are available for browsing!

What’s in a name?

According to the bookstore’s website, “dāsa” came from the name of the late venerable Thai Buddhist monk called “Buddhadāsa Bhikkhu”.

books bangkok thailand 1 Dasa Book Café – Bangkok’s favorite second hand bookstore

“The word “dāsa” itself means “slave” or “servant”. It’s the word from an ancient language called “Pali” which is the language that Buddhist monks use in chanting and in their regular rituals or ceremonies. We chose this name because it conveys the meaning that all book lovers are “slave” in the sense that they can’t live without books or reading. The name also has a nice Asian touch to it and is also quite catchy,” confessed the people behind Dasa Book Café.

Buy it. Read it. Exchange it. Trade it. Sell it.

You can also take your own books to Dasa Book Café to exchange, trade or swap them for others you haven’t read. Not all books are taken and the prices depend on the book’s condition, its popularity, and the original suggested publisher’s list price. They don’t take books that are in bad shape, titles that they already have too many copies of, photocopied versions, or (in the case of fiction novels) hardcover titles.

If you want to sell the books that you have bought at Dasa Book Café, you receive 50% of the price you paid at Dasa as store credit. This credit can be used to but more books or, maybe, a coffee in the store. But, if the condition of the book you bought has deteriorated noticeably they will adjust the credit amount accordingly. If you don’t use your credit on the same day, you will receive a credit note for later use.

books bangkok thailand 2 Dasa Book Café – Bangkok’s favorite second hand bookstore

You can also sell some of the books you don’t fancy anymore on your bookshelves. Of course, it is possible that not all the books that you want to sell will be bought, but you have good chances. If you want to sell your books for cash, you will receive less value as opposed to exchanging them for store credit. Check with the sore beforehand if you have many books you would like to sell.

Mail delivery

In case you’re not from Bangkok, the bookstore can ship to any location in Thailand! All you need to do is e-mail the bookstore atinfo[at]dasabookcafe[dot]com with the list of books that you would like to order. For fast and accurate service, it is important to include details of the book in your e-mail (which you can just copy from the booklist). When you place your order indicate whether you would like the books shipped via regular Thai Post, or the faster (and more expensive) EMS express service.

The guys at Dasa will confirm your order by e-mail and give you the grand total. This amount (total cost of books plus shipping & handling) should be transferred to their bank account in Bangkok. The details will be given to you when you place your order. After they have confirmed the bank deposit, they will ship the books to you. All book orders are usually shipped the following business day, unless that day happens to fall on a national holiday or weekend. They do not take credit cards.

Exceptional books

Among the notable and rare titles about Buddhism, Thailand and Asia currently in stock, I find worthy to mention:

- Reginald Davis – The Royal Family of Thailand;
- Narada Maha Thera – The Buddha and His Teachings;
- Noel Wynyard – Durian: a Siamese Interlude;
- Maurice Percheron – Buddha and Buddhism;
- Bernard Llewellyn – With my Back to the East;
- Sue Arnold – A Burmese Legacy;
- W.A. Graham - Siam (Volume 1 & Volume 2); and
- Pimsai Amranand and William Warren – Gardening in Bangkok.

Happy reading!

Voicu Mihnea Simandan is a Romanian writer, member of the Bangkok Writers Guild, who has been living and working in Thailand since 2002. He is the author of “The Ironman. A Play”, a book for children well-received in educational circles.

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