Predictions of the death of the printed word may be plentiful, and your practical choice for a quick read on the way to work might be a Kindle, but still nothing beats turning the pages by hand, the unique smell of a book or the satisfaction to be felt from a bookshelf heaving with your collection. Luckily for Bangkok’s bookworms, Dasa Book Café is just the answer.
In a country that’s decidedly lacking a reading culture – oddly despite having previously held the title of World Book Capital – Dasa is a fortunate exception, a bastion of the written word in a nation that would rather watch TV or play Candy Crush Saga. Within walking distance of the BTS at Phrom Phong, this little shophouse rises up three storeys and packs in over 17,000 titles. Fantastically organised, the huge array of titles is available for picking off the shelf and purchase in-store, or by mail order thanks to the ‘DasaBase’ spreadsheet of current stock, updated three times a week and published on the shop’s web site. Staff in the shop are happy to check the database there and then to track down the book you’re looking for.
As befits the name, Dasa doubles up as a miniature coffee shop – one small table and a bar by the window, to be precise – that makes the perfect spot to sip on something sweet as you dip into your latest find. The menu is limited – think espressos and hot and cold tea, coffee and cocoa – and by Thai standards relatively pricey (35 baht for an espresso, up to 60 baht for an iced tea) but it’s the atmosphere as much as the drink that you’re paying for, and that in itself is worth every penny. Dasa has an educated yet friendly and warm feel to it – it’s a serious bookshop for people who seriously love reading, but it’s not the sort of silent place where you’re going to be glared at for having a chat as you browse the shelves.
On the pavement outside the shop, you’ll find a few boxes of bargain titles that go for as little as 19 baht – even better, this rummage-fest extends across the second floor at the top of the building, where there are even more to choose from. A small collection of Nancy Chandler merchandise by the stairs on the first floor even includes a few of her infamous Bangkok maps, and a couple of cute greetings card designs. The ground and first floor are otherwise taken up by the main collection, well categorised and including children’s books, general fiction, mystery, travel and a host of other non-fiction titles as well as foreign language literature and an impressive selection focussed on Thailand and elsewhere in Asia. Whether you’re backpacking around Thailand or are here for the long-haul, it’s the perfect place to stock up on a reading list of essentials to better understand your adopted home.
That also makes their sale and trade-in policy perfect: return your previous Dasa purchase within a year and you’ll get up to half the original price paid in store credit, depending on the state it’s in when you take it back – or get the cash, but at 20% less. The only exception is travel guidebooks, which are generally non-returnable. If you return your purchase after more than a year, or you’ve got non-Dasa books to sell, they will happily take a look and make you an offer if they are interested. Just make sure you take along photo identification if you want to make a cash sale or exchange – they’re required to keep a copy for tax reasons.
714/4 Sukhumvit Road (between sois 26 and 28 – BTS Phrom Phong)
02 661 2993; www.dasabookcafe.com; firstname.lastname@example.org