Central Embassy’s Open House, one of Bangkok’s latest urban playgrounds, offers a curated collection of modern lifestyle attractions, from high quality gastronomy and entertainment to stimulating working spaces. But one feature of this dynamic creative space that clearly shines above the rest is the Open House Bookshop by Hardcover. Not just any bookstore, the immersive Open House Bookshop showcases an eclectic range of art, design, photography, travel, cooking and lifestyle books, with a brilliant selection of rare and out-of-print finds. Big boss Shane Suvikapakornkul, who is also the man behind Serindia Gallery and Serindia Publishing, tells us more about this creative sanctuary.
(Related: Welcome to Open House)
What inspired Open House Bookshop by Hardcover?
Hardcover’s first two branches are located on the third floor of the Bangkok Art and Culture Centre (BACC) and fourth floor of Central Embassy. This floor here was conceived by Central Embassy and Klein Dytham architecture (KDa). They wanted to do something different with retail, such as bringing together books and restaurants. We wanted to stay true to Hardcover. So Open House Bookshop is essentially a bookstore dedicated to art books that is home to some of the most comprehensive selections in the region.
What is the idea behind the bookshop?
The whole concept in the beginning was to celebrate print culture. So not only will you find rare and out-of-print books here, but there is a great emphasis on everything about print and paper. For instance, there’s a corner showcasing beautiful papers from Japan and Thailand. We also have a workshop space here for activities like paper dyeing or book binding.
What are some of the highlighted zones?
The Book Tower is dedicated entirely to cookbooks, while our Book Station features children’s book, Thai art and culture books and Thai literatures and translation works by independent Thai publishers. The Book Wall, on the other hand, displays all the visual art books. On the lower level, you will find it divided into categories—photography, art, fashion, design and architecture—and the mezzanine is arranged by publishers, such as Phaidon, Thames & Hudson, Laurence King and so on. On the very far end of the wall are some of the most all-inclusive collections of Japanese photography. Then there’s the Art Tower, which showcases a different exhibition every month.
Who are you customers?
The buyers are mostly 30 years old and above. And as we sell art books, most of our customers are those who work in the design or creative industries. But, translation works and children’s books are also doing exceptionally well.
In general, are a lot of people still buying books?
People still do. We have just opened, but the sales figure has proven to be very good. What we want to create here is a visual impact, the sort of experience that you cannot get from an iPad. We carry rare books that a lot of the younger generations may never come across, simply because they are not available on digital channels. I believe that print is here to stay. If digital could replace printed books, all publishers would have stopped producing work. But, yes, we do print less books because we have fewer bookstores. That is why publishers have to build their brands to develop followings. I would say that if you like a book you see here, buy it now, because it may not be around tomorrow.
Open House Bookshop by Hardcover; Central Embassy, Level 6, 1031 Ploenchit Road, Bangkok, Thailand; Tel. 0-2160-5949