Pubat: Thais still love books

A variety of books are offered at discount prices at the Book Expo Thailand, which runs until Oct 24.

Physical books are still popular with Thai bookworms in spite of plentiful reading material on the internet, says the Publishers and Booksellers Association of Thailand (Pubat).

Pubat president Charun Hormtienthong is optimistic sales of physical books will continue to rise because every book has its own characteristic appeal.

In his view, the internet is not preventing good reading habits among Thais as people can enjoy reading from any platform or device, not only physical books.

“The internet supports independent novelists and writers, giving them an opportunity to influence physical book publication,” he said.

However, Pubat believes the government has not promoted reading enough among Thai children and youths. Mr Charun requested state agencies and private operators cooperate to develop reading behaviour and knowledge in Thailand.

“I hope if the government seriously promotes reading among the younger generation, they will be equipped with the knowledge to drive the country forward,” he said.

Pubat has organised Book Expo Thailand 2016 at Queen Sirikit National Convention Center, running from now until Oct 24. Initially, it expected the 12-day fair would attract more than 2 million visitors and generate at least 500 million baht in book sales.

But the country is now in mourning after the passing of His Majesty the King, so Mr Charun projects book sales and visitors to the fair will decrease by 20% from its earlier outlook.

Pubat accepts Thais are not in the mood to go to a book expo. He expressed his deepest condolences to the nation.

The book fair will continue, but mascot shows and other colourful activities or celebrations have been cancelled.

Mr Charun said teenagers have high purchasing power compared with other visitors.

Last year the economic slowdown and weak consumption affected book sales, which generated nearly 500 million baht, he said.

This year’s expo is Pubat’s 21st edition, gathering 406 publishing houses to offer books at special prices through 934 booths. Visitors can explore their favourite books and witness every step of how a book is made during the “Saner Nah” exhibition.

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