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Book Nest, Hanoi. The celebration of books and printed materials

Da Thuong Nguyen‘s ideation to the accompaniment of bookstores being in a neighborhood or area of residence remains integral to the dissemination of information

Book Nest in Hanoi, Vietnam

Da Thuong Nguyen is the sole owner of Book Nest. A curated communal space and bookstore in the Hanoi city area. Alongside to manning a bookstore, Nguyen also maintains her position as a journalistic writer for renown publications based in Vietnam. These include Harper’s Bazaar Vietnam and L’Officiel Vietnam. Her journey to realizing Book Nest was the result of the continued reverence for printed literary goods. A liking she came to appreciate early on in her youth.

This laudation planted the seed in her to stive her way to founding Book Nest as to what it is today. The bookstore now resides in a fifty square meter space on the first floor of a house lot in the city of Hanoi. Nguyen shares, «in the digitized age of the twenty first century, reading books has, over time, become a reduced proclivity maintained by people. Further, it is a luxury as well, to afford books and to allot time in a day to visit a bookstore and browse through titles».

Her ideation to the accompaniment of bookstores being in a neighborhood or area of residence remains integral to the dissemination of information and the collated cultural essence of a city. This is reflected through the disquisition of critical theory and the maintaining of social interactions between individuals that walk into Book Nest. Be it with new-found peers or with Nguyen herself. «A bookstore is a destination where the populace of an area, regardless of age, have a space to socialize». Book Nest is a commendation of their coevals like Shakespeare & Co. in Paris and Books Actually in Singapore.

Lampoon review: The inception of Book Nest

Instituted in the year 2015, Nguyen formed Book Nest in the Ho Chi Min City area. The state is known to the locals and natives by the familiar name, Saigon, the former capital of Vietnam. The change in name occurred after the reunification of the northern and southern regions of the country at the end of the Vietnam war. Nguyen’s tenure in the city to running Book Nest lasted a period of one year. She then carried on her career in journalism to support herself after the closure of Book Nest in 2016 in the Ho Chi Min City location. Lated Nguyen situated herself in Hanoi. Here she found a location that suited her requirements to resuscitate Book Nest as of 2020.

In the period of closure that Book Nest faced, Nguyen traversed locations across the globe. She learnt the mechanics to operations to mimic it into the thesis of Book Nest. An effort she has succeeded in. Nguyen still operates with the same ethos in mind. A celebration of books and literary goods and the functions of what a bookstore is to be. «In 2009, I began my career in writing. In my time as a writer, I collected and exchanged books. This prompted me to start an online book sale page in 2012». Her efforts to devising such a book club drew in readers seeking a community. Here events took place with the aim of to provide books to exchange, titles to read and ideas. A practice maintained still at Book Nest.

The name of the store held meaning to her. It, in fact, suggested memories of her childhood where she would wait in a bookstore for her mother after school hours. «A bookstore to me is a hiding spot where I can escape. It is alike to a nest. A home away from home». Her combined ardor for books and urgency to signify a reading culture in Vietnam therefore prompted the formation of Book Nest. But it was also accelerated by Nguyen’s reading of Ngo Bao Chau’s article Where Is That Bookstore Now?. «There was a familiar feeling in what Chau wrote and how I felt in regard to books. There is a sentiment which particularly struck my attention. ‘You can find both despair and greatness of the human soul in the pages of books. That is why one would want an old bookstore close-by to where they live’». 

Book Nest, interior details

The bookstore’s location and design

Book Nest is located a walk away from the Truc Bach Lake. The locale is un-familiar to tourists and one that Nguyen considers to be possessing intellect. Facing the front road where passerby’s and those on a stroll are able to spot the store had made Book Nest accessible and synonymous in the area. In charge for the design of the store, Nguyen employed a set of contractors to fit in floor to ceiling glass windows. The aim was to allow for natural light to enter and reflect on the books. This was an emphasis Nguyen worked on early on upon discovering the Hanoi location of Book Nest. The bookshelves mimic the windows of the store in height. They are in a neutral color to not take away the focus from books.

Designed to distinguish books of height, width and thickness, the shelving units play a role in creating an illusion of distance when the library of books are stacked unto the shelves. Books are displayed alongside their writers’ portraits with literary quotes from their works in a designated typeface. The center of the room creates the illusion that it is empty. The shelves are, in fact, stacked toward the walls of the store. Nguyen’s intention, in fact, was to curate a gallery like feel in the store. With a chair and table in a corner and a glass cabinet hosting abstruse literary works in the adjacent area. She describes the location of the store and its internal identity to be a juxtaposition. The city reflects history and Book Nest is a celebration of modernity.

Book selection at Book Nest

Book Nest carries works genres of art, literature, cultural studies as well as works of fiction and non-fiction. With the flow of upcoming titles, Nguyen also carries secondhand books and collectible antiques kept in the glass shelf for showcase to her customers. Further, Nguyen works in collaboration with renown and up-and-coming publishers to acquire reading materials to Book Nest. As of 2021, Book Nest has since assisted in sales of self-published works by a journalist in the genre of art research and discourse in art theory.

Nguyen caters to her demographic of readers interested in magazines as well. She carries, in fact, titles like Kinfolk, Monocle, Art Republik and Nikkei to name a few. «For Book Nest, I ensure that book covers and content are of quality prior to bringing books in. As I am in charge of the vetting process, I want to ensure that whatever recommendations I make through what I sell are worth the purchase». To complement sales of books, Book Nest also sells bookmarks made from Vietnamese bamboo, book covers made in fabric, leather and letter writing papers. 

Events at Book Nest

Book Nest has since hosted an event centered on the works of Van Gogh, translated into Vietnamese. The aim is to inculcate the sense community and colloquy in topics and books. Nguyen’s efforts to promote the event were by working with book company, Omega Plus. Arranging meetings with translators, editors, The Advisory Board of the Painting Cabinet, Painters as well as art connoisseurs. Along with this, Book Nest also carries out monthly reading circles, workshops and talks with writers, translators, journalists and readers in the environs.

A means to maintaining healthy environmental business practices, Nguyen does not offer plastic bags with purchase of books. Offering tote bags with purchases instead, returning customers who show up with them are eligible to receive a five percent discount on their purchase of books or magazines. During the pandemic, financial issues and the uncertainty of keeping the business afloat hit Nguyen. Nevertheless, Book Nest in Hanoi continues to persist. This is due to the support of the community of readers and through the events hosted in the store. Nguyen intends on expanding a curation of Book Nest stores across Vietnam in the foreseeable future.

Book Nest

63 Trúc Bạch, Truc Bach, Ba Đình, Hanoi, Vietnam

Book Nest is a boutique-style bookstore. One can find the latest titles self-picked by the owner or old books representing different era as well as other accessories. These include book covers, bookmarks, pens and letter papers.

Pravin Nair

The writer does not work for, consult, own shares in or receive funding from any company or organization that would benefit from this article.

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check and buy on Prototipo Store
item collections in limited edition
crafted according to our editorial search

Hemp / made in Italy
Lampoon is working to restore
Hemp production in Italy
as hemp is the one and only
natural vegetal fiber sourceable in the country
for more info, please email us at [email protected]

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