The Publishers and Booksellers Association of Thailand (Pubat) is promoting an exchange of literature between Asean members before the advent of the Asean Economic Community (AEC) in 2015.
Pubat will push for the campaign at next month's meeting of the Asean Book Publishers Association, where it will suggest a special rate for publication of literature under the programme.
In addition, there can be business matching between publishers, writers and distributors. These activities may begin at the Bangkok International Book Fair 2013 next March.
Pubat president Worapan Lokitsataporn said the multilingual exchange will educate the various countries about other cultures and prepare people for when the AEC fully emerges in 2015.
"Apart from the literature exchange, Thais must develop their knowledge through reading and improve their English skills to increase the country's competitiveness to deal with higher competition in future," he said.
In its 2012 survey, the UN Development Programme said the top five literacy rates in Asean belonged to the Philippines (95.7%), Singapore (94.7%), Thailand (94.1%), Brunei (93.4%) and Vietnam (92.8%).
Rounding out the list were Malaysia (92.5%), Myanmar (92%), Indonesia (92%), Cambodia (76.3%) and Laos (68.7%).
A study by Thailand's National Statistical Office in May and June found the literacy rate of young people was highest in Bangkok (67.2%) and lowest in the Central Plains (47.4%).
The leisure reading rate for Thais aged 6 and up was 68.8%. Among men it was 69.3% and among women 68.3%.
The highest leisure reading rate, 89.3%, was found in Bangkok and the lowest in the Northeast.
It seems that government reading campaigns centred on big cities have yet to reach many areas. Mr Worapan said the campaigns must expand to prepare for the AEC.
Pubat organises the Book Expo in Si Racha and Ubon Ratchathani every year and will add three more locations next year: Chiang Mai, Udon Thani and Hat Yai.
Book Expo Thailand 2012, to be held at the Queen Sirikit National Convention Center from Oct 18-28, is expected to generate revenue exceeding 400 million baht for about 1 million books sold during the 11-day event.
Pubat expressed confidence the purchasing power of Thais is back and will benefit sales at the expo. The group forecasts the book market will grow by 3-5% to 21.8 billion baht this year.
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