Used-Book Fans Find Option
Book lovers who don’t want to pay the high prices attached to many new books available in Phnom Penh’s smattering of outlets now have an alternative.
Dubbed the London Book Center by its British proprietor Jerry Walter, the shop, which opened Monday, eventually will offer about 4,000 second-hand books.
In the ground-floor store at
65 St 240, he has about 1,800 English-language titles now, including crime, mystery, romance, Southeast Asia and non-fiction. Walter said his stock is expected to double in the next month with the arrival of a shipment from London.
The books are priced at about $5 each, depending on their condition, he said.
The London Book Center will also buy and exchange second-hand books. Customers also will have the option of returning books they bought at the store and getting a $3 refund on their purchase.
The shop also will have Internet access and a cafe offering Western and Khmer food, prepared by Walter’s wife, Leakhana.
The London Book Center is Phnom Penh’s first used book shop since Bert’s Books closed shortly after factional fighting erupted in the capital in July 1997. Walter has been working in Phnom Penh for about four years, primarily as a physics instructor at the University of Phnom Penh.
But Walter emphasized he is not trying to duplicate the city’s previous well-known second-hand seller. “This is not a Bert’s,” said Walter. “I’m not Bert.”
The main difference between the two, he explained, is that rather than taking any mix of used books, he has requested certain titles, authors and genres from his supplier in London. And he is looking for feedback on what customers would like to see on the shelves.
He would also like to expand languages offered and hopes that French-speaking customers will suggest books and places they can be bought.
And while other businessmen may be holding off from starting businesses, Walter said the capital investment for a bookshop was small and quite safe, and the shop fills a need in the city.
“Everyone wants a bookstore.”