While I was in Cambodia last week, I noticed that my 2006 non-fiction title Beyond the Pancake Trench is still available as a photocopied bootleg in several outlets around the country.
My very own work, pirated by nefarious greedy people, does not sell nearly as well as the multitude of Lonely Planet titles that are available as similarly unoriginal merchandise just about everywhere around the country. Popular fiction titles much copied include novels by Charles Bukowski, Hunter S Thompson, Michel Houellebecq and Paul Coelho (who selects what gets copied and what doesn’t?). New arrivals on the country’s illicit bookshelves are the Stieg Larrson Millenium trilogy.
The non-fiction bestseller bootlegs in Cambodia appears to be Paul Handley’s The King Never Smiles, a biography of the long-reigning monarch of Thailand, and the excellent Politics of Heroin in Southeast Asia by Alfred McCoy. Other favorites encompass all the usual standards on Cambodian history, both ancient and recent, and numerous books by Paul Theroux.
One book seller in Phnom Penh recounted that Mr. Theroux had visited his shop recently and signed a bunch of his own pirated titles, which the shop owner promptly marked up by a couple of dollars.
Invariably, most of the copies are lousy. Pages are missing, copied at a weird angle or suddenly stand on their head, the print is so so and photographs usually look awful. More effort is made with the sure sellers – Lonely Planet Cambodia is reasonably well reproduced.
On the other hand, some rarely seen books, or out of print titles such as Mistapim in Cambodia by Christopher Pym are on sale. But don`t hold your breath. In all, only a few hundred bootleg books are available in Cambodia and most of them are Lonely Planet titles. Doubt they feel the pinch.
Beyond the Pancake Trench has been shrunk in size, the images are lost and the whole affair looks rather sad.
So buy the real deal at my Amazon store!