The biggest big bookstore

I think that Landmark’s status as the biggest bookstore in Chennai works against it. For the average writer or blogger, it is more enticing and even “proper” to write about the the used book shop on the pavement or the withering lending library he or she went to ever since they were kids. Writing about such shops is almost romantic, like standing up for the underdog. But imagine Chennai without one of its most famous landmarks – Landmark?

Entering Landmark, Nungambakkam, is like entering a cultural cauldron. You constantly get the feel of being in a happening place.
Its cousins at Spencer Plaza and Citi Centre are posher, bigger, and more upmarket. But the Nungambakkam shop occupies a special place in my heart. Like that first girlfriend or something like that!
Most of the convenience of shopping at Landmark is of getting it all in one place and at a reasonable price. The collection – from the new arrivals to classics – is fairly large. But I always get the feeling that it may not be that deep. I would advise NOT to look for that rare, elusive book here. Amazon does that job better.
The shops offers a new service – you can order any book available with any of the major publishers here or abroad and the shop would get it for you. At no extra cost, I think the deal is a killer.
Landmark was started late in 1987. But by the time I visited it for the first time in 1999, it had expanded to 12000 sq feet and had added a large music collection. Landmark’s magazine section too is famous. Almost every magazine of repute and infamy arrives here, but they are almost always expensive to buy.
It’s pity that reading is not encouraged in any of the Landmark outlets. It would have been great if Landmark were more like Crossword where there are couches for the reader.
Landmark also has a well known site. But again I don’t think that the site has a great functional design. I have often spent hours browsing it with nothing to show.
Regular readings also happen at Landmark. I think most Indian authors would have spoken here at least once. Tickets to the city’s hottest in theatre and music is another attraction.
But the biggest pleasure is to just go and browse and get the feel of the books and CDs. It’s a glorious way to spend a couple of hours, away from the heat and dust.

4 Comments so far

  1. Kaps (unregistered) on July 27th, 2006 @ 11:57 am

    Did you say reasonable price? Landmark sells most new books and CDs at retail price anyway. I regretted buying “The World is Flat” from their shop at the retail price (about Rs. 495), when it was being sold thru their online channel at Rs. 375. It pays to go online but if you wan’t the real experience, a visit to the book shop is recommended.

  2. nandhu (unregistered) on July 28th, 2006 @ 11:43 am

    i meant that they dont fleece you. but books arent very cheap unless they are indian or student editions.
    i have seen people shop there without bothering about how much they bill would be. that’s the kind i think that landmark seeks out and encourages.

  3. Thad E. Ginathom (unregistered) on July 28th, 2006 @ 1:13 pm

    i like to visit Fountainhead bookshop in Rhadakrishnan Salai

    Nothing like the variety of Landmark, but a pleasant place to browse.

    Just now they have a “at least 50% off sale” with a couple of big tables full of reduced books. Quite a lot of fiction from Indian authors is there…

    (this is not an ad! I am just a customer: promise!)

    Higinbothams, despite its antiquity, seems a little sterile to me. I think it is maybe the best for non-fiction, having a huge selection quite apart from the usual computer/management (also known as yawn/boredom ;) ) books.

    My wife stopped to see the selction on a second-hand stall in Luz one evening. What impressed me was the fact that the young teenager doing the selling seemed to know his stock so well!

  4. Nandhu (unregistered) on July 28th, 2006 @ 6:10 pm

    i have never been to fountainhead. i guess it must be a nice place from what u say.

    and what u have to say about higginbothams is very true. it is a very sterile place, somehow.

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