Visitors browse books on display at the Chamchuri Square Book Fair. (Photo: Apichart Jinakul)
The Publishers and Booksellers Association of Thailand (Pubat) expects the publishing market to return to growth this year following the easing in the Covid-19 situation.
The market value of the publishing business in the country is forecast to reach 15 billion baht in 2022, up from 12.5 billion in 2021.
According to Teeranai Sottipinta from Pubat’s executive committee, people were found to read more at home during the pandemic and such reading habits are expected to continue especially among the next generation despite the easing of the Covid-19 situation.
“Though the market is expected to resume growth this year, the total value remains far from the period before the crisis when it reached as high as 30 billion baht in value in certain years,” he said. “Thai people still read many times less than people in other countries, despite the fact that reading provides higher value than people can ever imagine.”
In Japan, according to Mr Teeranai, the market size for books reached 230 billion baht in 2021, more than 20 times that of Thailand, even though the population of Japan is 125.8 million. The market value of the book industry in South Korea, with a population of 51 million, was 170 billion baht, while the value of the French market was 110 billion baht despite the France’s population being similar in size to Thailand.
Mr Teeranai said although demand is returning to normal, the industry still faces many obstacles.
“We expect that the overall price of books will be raised by 15% in the remaining four months of this year as the cost of importing paper from Europe has already risen by 30% because of the weakening baht,” Mr Teeranai said, adding that this may lead people to read fewer books. According to Mr Teeranai, the association is scheduled to meet related state agencies by the end of this year or early next year to discuss the problems.
In the past eight years, the standard price of books averaged at 200-250 baht, while prices increased to 300-350 baht over the past five years.
“The standard price of books could be raised to 400 baht per book this year,” Mr Teeranai said.
Currently, the top genres in the market remain comics, light novel books, self-improvement and political history.