Bookish Bookstore in downtown Kampot: A quaint gem in Cambodia

Run by dedicated local owner Leang, Bookish is a must-visit charming literary haven. This cozy space has weathered the storms of Cambodia’s economic challenges, emerging as a beacon for book lovers and dreamers alike. We sat down with Leang to discuss her reason for keeping the popular local bookstore alive.

Bookish Bookstore in downtown Kampot

“I and my partner, we love books,” said Leang. “This bookstore was originally started by my partner who bought it from its previous owner. Somehow, this bookstore had been sold to one person to another probably 3 to 5 times already.”

For over a year and a half, Leang has poured their heart and soul into this venture, dreaming of expanding beyond just books to create a comfortable space where literature enthusiasts can indulge in their passion over coffee and drinks. But Bookish isn’t just about selling books; it’s a place where dreams are nurtured and community bonds are strengthened.

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“Making it through difficult times and surviving in this bad economic situation in Cambodia. As a small business owner, I have to be a seller, manager, cleaner, designer, and digital marketer! I’ve also expanded. It’s not only selling books, we also do Publishing House where we help local writers publish their own books, as well as selling souvenirs, games and E-books. I have had to be progressive and adapt to keep my dream alive!”

One of the most commendable aspects of Bookish is its commitment to promoting literacy and education in Cambodia. By providing access to books and fostering a love for reading, they contribute to improving literacy rates and empowering individuals in the community. Moreover, the bookstore serves as a platform for showcasing Cambodian literature, history, and culture, thus playing a vital role in cultural preservation.

Bookish Bookstore in downtown Kampot

“It was my dream to have a comfortable place for people loving books and literature and with coffee and drinks,” she said.

“Now I dream of leading a volunteer project to help little kids in the community to connect, encourage and empower them to care about the environment. I dream of taking my store as a middle point where good people come together and make a small impact to our community on the environment, nature and humanity.”

Indeed, beyond its shelves of books – and driven by its passionate owner – Bookish is a vibrant community hub where book lovers, writers, and intellectuals come together to share ideas and engage in intellectual exchange. It’s more than just a place to buy books; it’s a space where minds converge, ideas flourish, and friendships are forged.

“My main goals are clear. I want to promote literacy by providing access to books and fostering a love for reading among the community. Secondly, I want to preserve my culture. Through my bookstore, I can showcase Cambodian literature, history, and culture, helping to preserve and celebrate the country’s rich heritage.”

I also want Bookish to be a community hub, a gathering place for book lovers, writers, and intellectuals, fostering a sense of community and intellectual exchange. Finally, education and empowerment are important to me, and I’m proud my shop takes part in providing the power to educate, inspire, and empower individuals and as a bookstore owner, I am proud to play a role in facilitating this process of community.

Operating an independent bookstore in today’s challenging landscape is no easy feat, but Bookish perseveres, curating a unique selection of books that celebrate diversity and ensure a wide range of voices are heard. By supporting this local bookstore, patrons not only enrich their own reading experiences but also contribute to the cultural vibrancy of the community.

Leang added, “We’re an independent bookstores that often curate a unique selection of books that reflect the diversity of voices and perspectives in literature. By supporting your local bookstore, you’re supporting cultural diversity and ensuring that a wide range of books is available to readers. 

Bookish Bookstore in downtown Kampot

In essence, Bookish is a testament to the owner’s lifelong love affair with books and their unwavering dedication to fostering a literary haven in the heart of Kampot. It’s a humble yet impactful endeavor that embodies the transformative power of literature and the enduring spirit of community. Whether you’re a bookworm, a dreamer, or simply seeking a cozy corner to unwind with a good book, Bookish welcomes you with open arms, promising a sanctuary of peace and inspiration amidst the bustling streets of downtown Kampot.

Tom Starkey
Author: Tom Starkey

Tom Starkey is an International Development graduate from Sussex University with 12-years of experience across 4 continents, Tom's goal is that he wants to showcase his love for Cambodia, where he lives, works and now happily calls home.