Since I recently had an opportunity to visit Ulaanbaatar (still known to many as Ulan Bator), I couldn’t resist doing a page on Mongolian-language bookshops in Ulaanbaatar as a companion piece to that on Mongolian-language bookhops in Hohhot. However, I soon realised that Ulaanbaatar needed a different approach from Hohhot. The uniqueness of the Hohhot page lies in its coverage of something that no one else has covered. Hopefully that will make it useful to people who are interested in Mongolian books, and maybe even tempt some to check out the bookshops who might otherwise not have done so.
But since Mongolian-language bookshops are not uncommon in Ulaanbaatar, the rarity value of the page would obviously have to come from something else. I decided that that something else would be the second-hand bookshops of UB. These are less well-known than the main bookshops in the city (although Wikimapia has an entry at Bookmarket Ulan Bator), but are definitely worth a visit. So the final page ended up as an introduction to the two major bookshops in the city, along with an introduction to the second-hand book market.
While I was preparing to do the page, I discovered that bookshops in Ulaanbaatar don’t permit you to take photos of their premises. This led to me being upbraided by staff and a security guard at the Nomin bookshop in the State Department Store for taking unauthorised photos.
In Internom Book Store, I decided that it would be prudent to ask first. My request was passed on to Dagvaa in the bookshop office, and I was given a friendly welcome and allowed to take as many photos as I wanted – more than I could actually use. So the page features photos and coverage of both bookshops, but only those at Internom were taken legally! Both are large and well-stocked bookshops and should be your first stop if you are looking for books, including dictionaries, language textbooks, and a range of books in foreign languages.
If you are specifically looking for books in English or French, there are other bookshops that are worth a visit. These are covered at the Lonely Planet website in ‘Book shopping in Ulaanbaatar’.
Now that I’ve done Hohhot and Ulaanbaatar, I would love to trip up to Ulan Ude and see what that city has to offer in the way of Mongolian-language bookshops. Not something on the immediate horizon, but it is very tempting to think of excuses to visit Ulan Ude, Lake Baikal, and Irkutsk in the summer…