Most working writers have to struggle to get by and earn a living even in the best of times and money is a constant thorn in the side of many authors and would-be authors, whether in Cambodia or any other country.
Author Bin Rath, however, does not care about making a profit on his work even though he spends time and money to write and share his knowledge with others. With writing, he is consumed by his mission for the greater good and the goals he sets for himself.
His mission is to spread reading and literacy in Cambodia and to contribute to human resource training in education, especially in remote areas among those who can’t afford schooling.
Another focus of Rath’s is reaching those who have never read or believe that they don’t like to read books and are intending to drop out of school.
Most authors write books for people who enjoy reading and choose to read as a pastime, but Rath writes books for those who don’t like to read or have never even tried to read a book. His goal is a difficult one: Getting their attention and turning their attitudes towards reading around.
“This is, you can assume, one of my main differences from other writers. I know this mission is not that easy, but I have done it in the past and I am doing it now and I will continue to do it into the future. And I’ll do it with hope.
“I’ll keep trying to get the attention of those who aren’t readers and turn them into readers. And I’ll keep trying to convince those who want to drop out of school to continue studying. It takes more than one day to get results. It’s not all that easy,” Rath said.
Rath said he knows that new adult readers need material that is written to their literacy level without being condescending or childish.
“For a strategy to get the two groups of people to show interest in books and reading books, I try to simplify all my books in terms of meaning, content and even the book cover art, especially those books related to the real journeys through life and people’s daily living,” he continued.
In addition, all of his books are delivered to those who cannot afford them for free, as well as to schools, village libraries and various learning centres.
On top of that, every night on Facebook he goes live on Chhanrath Phumi’s page and people can answer trivia questions to receive a free book.
As of January 15, 2023, the Facebook page had held the trivia question book give away for 252 nights and more than 600 books from a variety of publishers have been given out in response to answers given for more than 400 general knowledge trivia questions.
The trivia contest’s goal is to provide 1,000 free books to the public within 365 days.
Rath’s published works include Happy Past, Story of Life and Afternoon. The first volume is about childhood, the second a novel about life at middle-age and the third is about elderly people and people with chronic health problems.
“For me, in the next 5-10 years, if someone walks up to me and tells me ‘thank you, if I had not read your book, I would have dropped out of school’ or ‘thank you, if I had not read your book I would not have started reading anything ever’... Those kinds of statements are the true source of my happiness,” he said.
He also said that if any of his books can attract more people to read – even one person – then that is a great success for him as a writer.
“Losing sight of books and indifference to reading books is a choice and not seeking out education, knowledge, information and experiences to develop our abilities is an unfortunate aspect of some people’s human nature, but I believe it can be overcome if the right book is put in their hands,” he said.