Thursday, 17 June 2010
Book lovers' paradise
Books, books and books... Wherever you glance your eyes are met with heaps of books.
Welcome to the famous Sunday Kitab Bazar or Sunday book market of Daryaganj in Delhi. Every Sunday, over 250 book sellers set their stalls on the pavements or the patio of shops which remain closed on this day.
If one is on the lookout for rare titles then this is the place to be in. Hundreds of thousands of titles from all over the world on all subjects under the earth can be found here. From current magazines and bestsellers to old, hardbound, priceless books which have gone out of print can be spotted here.
One can buy books here at 1/10th of the original price in standard bookshops. The latest issue of Time magazine or The Economist can be bought for Rs10 and Rs20 respectively. From classics, novels, biographies, autobiographies, to books on medicine, history, travel, law, IT, engineering, architecture, interior and fashion designing and text books, you name it, all are available here.
So, it’s worth taking a trip to the market and rummaging through the heaps of books to chance upon a treasure trove.
Arun Laxmanam, 37, has been coming to this market since he was 17. He says he is passionate about books. “I can find here books on all subjects and in one place. It’s fun to discover new books. Sometimes the books I buy here turn out to be so interesting that I end up ordering their entire series at full price,” says Laxmanam.
Like him, Rohit Khatri, 18, was seen squatting and browsing through a pile of books. A Delhi University undergraduate student, he has been especially coming here to look for text books which he needs to prepare for his civil service exams. “I have been looking for some books which have run out of print and not available anywhere else,” says Khatri. The day was successful for him as he found most of the books he wanted.
The market is always chock-a-block with students, parents and book lovers in spite of scorching heat or bitter cold. While parents can be seen selecting story or rhyme books from a vast range for their young ones, students particularly come here to buy text books for pittance. The market suits students perfectly as they live on a very tight budget.
Sudha Ranjan, 60, from Delhi’s neighbouring city Noida, has her bag full with bestselling novels that will last her a month. “I come here every month to take my stock,” confesses Ranjan who was checking out each stall.
Amidst the din of sellers calling passengers to their stalls, some buyers could be seen haggling for a further price reduction, while a few others visibly surprised after seeing a rare book at as low a price as Rs20. “Are you sure you are selling it for Rs 20?, asked a youth to make it sure after chancing upon a book in a heap. “Yes, pick any, all are for Rs 20,” said the seller indifferently. Clutching his favourite find the buyer made a happy exit.
Apart from Hindi and English, books are also available in Arabic, German, Chinese, Urdu and French.
Ramlal, 35, has been selling books at the market for the past 18 years. He says he doesn’t make much money through retail selling though. But when customers buy in bulk from him about 300- 400 books together then he makes some profit.
Ramlal sources his books from publishers and distributors. Most of the books sold here are second hand books but not all of them.
“The sellers get books at a very cheap rate from publishers who are not able to sell old editions. Some other sellers get books from customs as well which remain unclaimed. These books are bought at dirt cheap rate,” says Malik Singh, 54.
Singh sells only international magazines in 1/10th of their original price. How is he able to sell them so cheap and still make money?
“I get these magazines from the International Airport. Everyday hundreds of magazines come with international flights. Once a plane lands at the airport, the magazines are also binned while cleaning up the aircraft. These magazines are not reused. So I go there and buy in bulk as if I was buying potatoes in kilograms,” says Singh.
He has been selling books at Daryaganj for eight years now after leaving his odd job. By selling magazine at the Sunday market he earns enough to support his family. “One of my daughters has just landed a job with a MNC after completing her engineering in electronics. I paid her fees and other expense by selling magazines here,” says Singh with a proud smile.
Three decades on the market still exudes old days charm. Tourists coming to Delhi bookmark this place on their planner. And, for booklovers it’s an assured haven to find their “best friend”.