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Home > Discover Mumbai > City LifeStyle > A Book Lovers Paradise

 A Book Lovers Paradise

Books, books everywhereA road connects Flora Fountain , one of the historical monument in Mumbai, to Churchgate, the Head Quarters of Western Railways. This crisscrossed street is lined with book stalls that display a bewildering variety of books crammed in every conceivable place. Books ranging from best sellers to an ancient copy of the classics can be bought at reasonable prices.

What to buy and what to notThis is where you can witness the literates meeting the illiterates. Here most of the shopkeepers are illiterates, or as they say, "hum to saab angutha chap hain." After thinking about the plight of these shopkeepers, you tend to wonder if they are not literate, then how can they figure out which book is of which subject. "We organise all the books according to the subject. Most of the owners are literates and they introduce us to different subjects and its respective books that has to be stalled. After a couple of months, fidgeting with variety of books, one tends to recognise books by their covers," revealed Suresh, one of the employees in a shop.

When you come here do not be surprised, if looking for 'A Suitable Boy', your chance upon a 'Mills n Boons', with your initials on it. Yes, these books are purchased by the shopowners from the raddi walas, to whom we despatch all our old stocks at through away prices - like Rs 3/- a kilo. AllThis is what I was searching for these old books are accumulated and then sold to other book lovers. These shops also keep stock of new books offering them with a discount of 5 to 10 percent, depending on the publisher and their profit margins. According to Raju, one of the shopkeepers, "The least priced book with me is of Rs 10 and the highest priced I sold till date is of Rs 935. Often customers place their requirements and we get the books accordingly. We also run a library and books are given to anyone and everyone, on depositing the actual price of the book; full rate for a new issue and half rate for a second hand book."

Business is pretty dull"I love reading, and its not always possible to spend a bulk amount for books. And for those who would rather not lavish all their money on books, the book stalls is a sweet deal. Here you get your copy at reasonable rates. At times you can even pick a new issue, if you are availing their library facility. And here you get books ranging from fables to hi-tech topics, all stretched on sides of this street." Annie, Officer, HSBC, is one among the thousands, who visits these stalls almost everyday.

These workers spend around ten man hours everyday from 9 in the morning to 7 in the evening and what they receive is peanuts. Most of them are from Bihar, Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh and are in the age group of 18 to 30 years. "Looking at these books at times we wonder, we wont have been selling them if we were capable of reading them." sighed one among the numerous shopkeepers.

By: Sharmistha Chakraborty

Photographs by: Vinayak Prabhu

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