Gecko Books for Book Lovers
Book lovers are spoilt for choice with the proliferation of secondhand bookshops in Chiang Mai. It seems every guesthouse has a bookshelf to pick or purchase from and the old city is papered with bookshops from hole-in-the-wall stalls stacked with tatty-eared block busters to specialist book stores run by eccentric bibliophiles.
For the past decade, the name synonymous with secondhand books in Chiang Mai has been, of course, Gecko Books. Owner, George Goldberg, has been a voracious reader all his life and is passionate – dare we say obsessive – about books. He spends his days buying books, devouring them, sorting them into categories, recommending them, and as any good businessman should, selling them. Gecko has now amassed a staggering 150,000 titles, which can be found in their five shops throughout the city, as well as on their new online archive, a searchable, constantly updated tool which should help readers find exactly what they are looking for. While online buyers (who can use paypal or direct bank deposits to pay for their purchases) may have to wait for confirmation of titles upon order, Goldberg promises swift, efficient and personalised service.
The great thing about a successful secondhand bookshop such as Gecko is that they pay premium prices for the latest and most popular books, which means that all the top hit books from Europe and the United States arrive – via tourists – pretty hot off the press. Goldberg’s collection, however, is far more extensive than the latest Grisham offerings; he has an enormous selection of modern literature, comprehensive numbers from a variety of genres from biography to Buddhism, science fiction to crime. He is also building up his foreign language sections with a strong French section as well as German and Scandinavian languages.
While some of the more specialised or high-demand books in near-mint condition are in the few hundred baht mark, bargain hunters can go a little bit crazy at Gecko Books as his paperbacks start as low as 20 baht and thriller lovers will be thrilled at the 10,000 titles on sale at only 100 baht a pop. Residents also enjoy a great deal in that books, upon return within a month, can be sold back to Gecko Books for half the purchasing price.
There has been a lot of gushing about Gecko Books. Over the years Gecko Books has been recommended by newspapers, magazines, travel books and web sites from all over the world, all of which praise it for its huge selection of quality titles. Goldberg also prides himself on his knowledgeable staff and management, who will bend over backwards to search through the thousands of books scattered between their five shops as well as sift through their online archive to find readers the exact book they are looking for.
Gone are the days when Chiang Mai residents have to eagerly await a visiting friend from abroad to leave behind their holiday literature. Gecko Books, though secondhand, offers as fine a selection of titles as most major bookshops in most cities around the world.