Thavry Thon: Innovating Book Publishing in Cambodia

By: Peter Ford

Young Cambodian author Thavry Thon is best known for her autobiography  “A Proper Woman,” the success of which has convinced her that there is strong enough support for Cambodian-published literature, even if funding it requires unconventional means.

For her latest project, a semi-autobiographical novel exploring the challenges of rural life for Cambodian girls with big dreams, she has turned to crowdfunding to raise the $2,500 she needs to publish the first 1,500 books, and ensure copies can be donated to NGOs and schools across the country.

Geeks in Cambodia sat down with Thavry to learn more about the new project, and her vision for Cambodian publishing.

(The following has been edited for flow, length and clarity)

How would you describe the publishing and writing environment in Cambodia?

For a long time, authors and writers were not very well supported, and reading books has not been a popular past time.

When I was writing “A Proper Woman” I found it difficult and frustrating dealing with many of the publishing firms and book shops across, and felt there had to be a better way!

While the number of quality books published is relatively low, more and more people are becoming interested in reading, and this has helped to drive a demand for well designed and printed books.

What is your plan to support this interest in reading?

I wanted to create a small team that will help to inspire readers in Cambodia by creating and promoting inspiring and motivational books in Khmer. So along with 3 friends, we started “Seavphovjevet,” or Book of Life.

We focus on producing quality books and supporting Cambodian writers with marketing, stock management, proofreading, to make the process of getting from idea to sale as quick and painless as possible.

We also want to help make sure that writers are financially rewarded for their hard work, so we would ensure regular receipt of book sales, rather than the customary long wait that normally occurs here.

How is it going so far?

We already have 6 titles to be printed and distributed. Our goal for 2019 is to produce 10 additional titles.

All of these are physical copies. Our future goal would be to ensure all of our titles are available in ebook and audio formats, to ensure that people with different reading styles and needs are able to enjoy the rich and important work being produced in Cambodia.

We want to be the first Cambodian publishing house that able to compete with the international, and we are confident that the quality of Cambodian literature is able to make this goal possible!