7 of Thailand's strangest magazines

7 of Thailand's strangest magazines

Locally produced mags cover almost every niche you can think of: And some you probably haven’t

A glance along the shelves of any Thai bookshop is an experience in itself. Titles appear and disappear almost weekly, and while there are no official numbers of exactly how many magazines are being published at any one time in Thailand, I’d estimate the number to be close to 800.

There are around 60 licensed Thai language editions of overseas magazines –- and that number has grown by five already this year.  The next to appear will be a Thai language version of the global Lonely Planet magazine, which is set to make its debut next month.

But for every high profile overseas invader, there are many more locally produced magazines covering almost every niche you can think of –- and some you probably haven’t.

Here’s a selection of some of the more unusual Thai-language magazines, available on the shelves of bookshops in Bangkok.

1. Lottery Numbers Guide Book

If you need help picking your numbers for the Thai government lottery, grab a copy of the twice-monthly "Lottery Numbers Guide Book."  

At just 18 pages it’s small, but at 25 baht it’s also cheap and is probably the most professionally produced of the magazines on this list.

The magazine provides advice on what numbers to choose, looking at a wide variety of weird and wonderful topics including a cat with different coloured eyes, a lucky turtle, the latest film releases and a deformed coconut tree with apparent healthy powers.

Current affairs are also put under the spotlight, and recent helicopter crashes are analysed to produce the lucky numbers 316 and 317 (three helicopter crashes which killed 16 military personnel and one photographer).

2. Buddhist Land

Buddhist LandA rough count last weekend indicated there are more than 30 magazines on the shelves devoted to amulets, some of which have made it into 7-Eleven stores around the country -- an indication of their massive popularity and appeal.

Some of the leading titles have even started to develop tablet editions of their print titles, something many mainstream magazines have yet to do. 

The monthly "Buddhist Land" is one such publication that falls in this sector. Magazine covers are, in many cases, identical in that they feature images of a selection of amulets.

This magazine sells for 60 baht, and many of its 56 pages contain adverts for ancient and rare amulets.  

The fact there are more magazines devoted to amulets than women’s’ lifestyle tells you all you need to know about the popularity, and ultimately the profitability, of these titles.

3. Red-Whiskered Cages

Red Whiskered Cages"Red-Whiskered Cages" focuses solely on the art of making cages for the Red-Whiskered Bulbul, a popular songbird in Thailand -- especially in the south.

This monthly magazine, which sells for 120 baht, contains pages of intricate and delicate cages, many of which are antiques.

There’s also a feature looking at the process of using teak and rosewood to create a masterpiece cage from scratch.

A "My Favorite Cage" photo feature, with owners holding their prized possessions, is an obligatory part of this publication. Advertising is limited to just a handful of the 78 pages, so one can only assume the publisher is making decent revenues from single copy sales of this magazine.

4. Lurelover Magazine

A niche magazine if ever there was one, this title is focused almost exclusively on fishing lures.

Priced at 85 baht, there is a decent amount of advertising within "Lurelover's" 92 pages –- indicating the publisher has found and developed the niche very well.

Believe it or not, there are no other magazines devoted purely to lures. The editorial concentrates on fishing trips and what lures were used to catch different species of fish, as well as recently released lures.

There’s even a "Lure of the Month" feature. "Dog Tooth" and "Sexy Impact" are just two of the lures you can learn about in the August edition of this three-year-old title.

5. Fighting Fish

Maintaining the fishy theme is "Fighting Fish" magazine.  This 110-page monthly sells for 55 baht and is one of a rare breed of titles whose adverts come close to outnumbering editorial.

Fighting fish are clearly in demand, with prices to match. As well as features on fish and fish people, there are adverts for various potions that are likely must-have liquids for anyone wanting their fish to be an ultimate fighter.

This magazine is also a good example of how advertising is sold as part of the cover. Sometimes it's obvious, but I’ve seen examples that, for the right price, indicate advertisers can buy the cover story of a high profile magazine.

6. The City of Fighting Cocks

Cock Fighting MagazineThere are a lot of amulet magazines, but magazines devoted to the "sport" of cock fighting are equally popular. I’ve counted more than a dozen in one shop alone.

"The City of Fighting Cocks" magazine is one of the more interestingly named, but as with all others it proudly displays a picture of a champion on its August edition cover.

This magazine sells for 50 baht, runs to 96 pages and is well advertised with cocks for sale, stud cocks, cock-fighting equipment and drugs to make your cock the best.

Editorial is not for the squeamish as there are pictures of cock fights, some of which carry prize purses of more than 1 million baht. There’s also the "Man With His Favorite Cock" picture feature.

7. The Police Variety

"The Police Variety" magazine is a relatively new title -- August is issue number 11 of this monthly publication, which aims to inform the public about the good work being done by the Royal Thai Police.

There are features about individual members of the force, the work they do, their hobbies and life outside work, as well as a small amount of advertising from the likes of Marks & Spencer, Air Asia and Toyota.

At first I thought this was a magazine for the police, but it’s actually for the public at large. It’s difficult to know how many copies of this 70 baht, 92-page title are sold, though I suspect it’s not a huge amount.

Andrew Batt authors the Bangkok Bugle, a website devoted to news, views and information from the media and publishing industries in Thailand, and occasionally beyond. He’s also spoken on magazine and publishing issues at World Magazine Marketplace and the London Publishing Show.