Where to Buy Mongolian-Language Books in Ulaanbaatar (including second-hand books)
7 February 2012 (date of earliest version, last updated in January 2017)
Unlike in Hohhot, there is no problem buying Mongolian-language books in Ulaanbaatar (aka Ulan Bator). There are quite a few bookshops, large and small, scattered around the city, and finding a bookshop of some description is not at all difficult. This page is devoted to introducing three of the main bookshops, the main second-hand book centre, and a shop specialising in Inner Mongolian books.
It is always an idea to go to different bookshops since they do not invariably carry exactly the same books. There are also other bookshops around Ulaanbaatar that are worth a visit, and universities may also have book stalls worth visiting.
While bookshops around UB carry a broad range of recently published books, unfortunately it does not take long for books to go out of print, and when they do, it is almost impossible to find them. On occasions like this, it might be useful to visit a second-hand bookseller.
The map of central Ulaanbaatar below indicates the locations of the three largest bookshops (1, 2, and 3), the place where second-hand bookshops are found (4), and the small bookshop that stocks books in traditional Mongolian script (5).
|1. Internom Bookstore||2. Nomin Bookshop||3. Azkhur Bookshop||4. Second-hand book centre||5. Tagtaa Bookshop|
1. Internom Book Store
Internom Номын их дэлгүүр [internom nomin ikh delgüür]
Internom is generally considered to be Ulaanbaatar's largest and best bookshop. The main shop is located in the street that runs along the side of the Ulaanbaatar Hotel, Bag Toiruu, roughly opposite the Sports Palace. Their website is at www.internom.mn.
|External view of the Internom Book Store entrance|
This bookshop has two floors. Downstairs is the general books section, with books ranging from history to religion to novels to sport to the latest best-sellers. There is also a very extensive section of children's books in Mongolian and foreign languages.
|Partial view of the Internom first floor (February 2012)|
Upstairs is where you will find books on more business-like topics such as auditing, agriculture and husbandry, mining, marketing, society, and school textbooks, as well as language and dictionaries. There is also a section selling maps, DVDs and CDs, and finally a coffee shop.
|Partial view of the Internom second floor (February 2012).|
|View of the foreign language-learning and dictionary shelves.|
There are several smaller Internom bookshops around UB.
2. Nomin Majestic Bookshop
Located on the 6th floor of the State Department Store. There is a very simple website at Majestic Book Store.
|A view of the much-photographed State Department Store. Nomin bookshop is on the 6th floor at the rear end.|
This is a large shop with an extensive range of books in Mongolian, including a good section of children's books. There are also some books in English and now even a small section of books in traditional Mongolian script.
|The entrance to the Nomin Majestic bookshop.|
|Interior shot of one end of the Nomin Majestic bookshop. (This photo was taken illegally. No photos are allowed inside the department store).|
Азхур номын их дэлгүүр [Az Khur Nomin ikh delgüür].
The Azkhur Bookstore is a large new bookshop with its website at Azkhur Bookstore. The location is slightly inconvenient. From the State Department Store head south past the Tsirk (Circus)) till you reach Naran Road, which runs parallel to the railway. From there head west. The bookship is on the north side of the road. To compensate for the location, the bookshop runs free buses from the National University past the National Library (see website).
|The Azkhur Bookstore from outside|
|Two interior shots of Az Khur bookstore|
The bookshop is large and airy, and there is a special room devoted to foreign-language books, although the range of foreign-language books is disappointing. As I noted above, it's always an idea to visit more than one bookshop in UB as different bookshops may carry different books.
|The foreign-language section|
4. Second-hand book centre
Номын худалдааны төв [nomin khudaldaani töv]
It would be nice to say that if you can't find a book in any of the main bookshops you should mosey on down to the second-hand bookshops. Unfortunately it doesn't quite work that way. The second-hand bookshops can be a treasure trove of old books but you would setting yourself up for severe disappointment if you went there with your heart set on finding a particular out-of-print book. What you will find is a rather skewed selection of used books, the commonest types probably being reference books and text books. Nevertheless, the second-hand book centre is well worth a visit.
The second-hand bookshops are found on the bank of the Selbe Gol (Сэлбэ гол selbe gol), a small river running north-south slightly east of centre through Ulaanbaatar. More specifically, they are found on the northwestern side of what is known as the 'bridge with lions' (Арслантай гүүр arslan-tai güür) on Peace Avenue. Below is a picture looking east towards the Lion Bridge (the lions themselves can be seen if you look closely).
|The lions look rather tiny from here, but they are visible on either side, at the start of the bridge parapet.|
Going northwards from the northwestern lion, you'll see the second-hand book centre tucked in close to the university:
|The hall of shops.|
|A view from the side showing the sign.|
Inside you will find a large number of individual stalls, each with an attendant touting his or her wares and eager to suggest books you might need. It is probably a good idea, however, to bring along a Mongolian friend as the friendly booksellers can charge rather exorbitant prices.
|An interior view of the main hall containing second hand books.|
I've picked up a lot of used books here that can't be found elsewhere. Betraying my own particular interests, these include quite a few dictionaries: Kazakh-Mongolian, Russian-Buryat, Russian-Mongolian, Mongolian-Russian, Korean-Japanese/Japanese-Korean, Korean-Chinese, Mongolian-Turkish/Turkish-Mongolian, Mongolian-Japanese, and an Inner Mongolian monolingual dictionary published in China. There was much more on offer that I could have bought but had to restrain myself.
There are some other second-hand bookshops around UB, although on a smaller scale. The second-hand booksellers in front of the Teacher's University on Peace Avenue are worth checking out.
5. Books in traditional script
Тагтаа номын дэлгүүр Tagtaa Nomin Delgüür
If you ever have a hankering for books in the traditional Mongolian script, there is one bookshop that carries a range of Inner Monoglian titles imported from Hohhot (specifically from Xinhua Bookstore).
That shop is Tagtaa Bookshop (Тагтаа Номын Дэлгүүр tagtaa nomin delgüur) or 'Dove Bookshop', located roughly opposite the Chinese Embassy. Books carried include Inner Mongolian dictionaries, literature, non-fiction, etc. There are also some books in Chinese. Of course the prices are considerably higher than Hohhot, but you will save yourself an airfare!
|Exterior shot of Tagtaa Bookshop.|
|Interior shot of Tagtaa Bookshop showing Inner Mongolian books and Chinese books.|
|Bookshelves in Tagtaa Bookshop|
That wraps up this introduction to bookshops in Ulaanbaatar. If you become aware of other bookshops that you would recommend for buying Mongolian-language books, drop me a line. I would be delighted to add their details.