Booksellers in my friendly neighbourhood

So you’ve heard of Giggles. Should there be a possibility that you cannot find a book there, never fret, there are plenty of Independent bookstores around.

Where I live, Anna Nagar, for instance, has four prominent stores. One of them is known for cheap college books (I’ve been lucky to get an out-of-print text there), entrance exam books and school guides. It is barely noticeable and maintains a low profile and located at Blue-Star bus-stop. Still can’t find a book? Tell the old man in-charge, and he’ll get it for you within a week. His shop is famous because the price of any book never crosses two digits.

And then there is the slightly expensive store, bearing a banner that says “Book-fair”, (one that’s been going on forever, perhaps?) located adjacent to the famous Ayyapan Temple in Anna Nagar. The owner of the store will take a liking to you if you buy classics, will give you books for a lower price, if you say you are a collector. He offered me the entire set of “The Chronicles of Narnia” (consisting of seven books all in good condition) for two hundred rupees. Great place for picking up classics, pulp fiction and hard-bound copies of Arthur Clarke for forty rupees.

Two other stores sell best-sellers and popular titles. One right out-side Krishna Sweets outlet in Chinthamani, Anna Nagar East, is a place for picking up titles by Malcom Gladwell, Paulo Coelho, Ayn Rand, Jeffery Archer, John Grisham, PG Wodehouse and not to forget Harry Potter series. But if you, like me, get lucky, you can buy “Surely you’re joking Mr.Feynman”, after a lengthy bargain, for sixty rupees.

I haunt all these places regularly, however the one I visit most-frequently is, well, right outside Anna Nagar branch of ‘The Odyssey’ store. (I call it guts. Having a pavement bookshop right outside the doors of a leading bookstore) Thrice I got lucky at this particular store: Shantaram for a pricey hundred rupees; Aldous Huxley’s ‘Island” for *ouch* twenty hard units of Indian currency :) ; And probably my best buy: Hunter S. Thompson’s failed attempt at Gonzo journalism, “Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas“, for a rock bottom price of seventy rupees – when I was lamenting that I wouldn’t get a copy of it anywhere in the country.

Lesson learnt: Never underestimate a pavement bookstore. You never know what you’ll find.

9 Comments so far

  1. Lavanya (unregistered) on June 1st, 2006 @ 1:42 pm

    just wondering…should I be asking about…you know…piracy? ;)

  2. Krithiga (unregistered) on June 1st, 2006 @ 1:44 pm

    Lavanya: Yo ho, yo ho, a pirates life for me. ;) Kidding, these books I mentioned are not pirated versions, genuine second hand copies.

  3. Lavanya (unregistered) on June 1st, 2006 @ 2:21 pm

    Great! Btw, Krithiga – do you have any idea what happened to MindMart – the bookstore that hopped from Anna Plaza to the floor above Food World (second avenue)?

  4. Krithiga (unregistered) on June 1st, 2006 @ 2:25 pm

    The floor above FoodWorld now sells only leather goods – bags that sorta stuff. FoodWorld has taken a liking to sell books – the usual best-seller stuff.

  5. Kaps (unregistered) on June 1st, 2006 @ 2:25 pm

    Pavement stores are generally associated with pirated copies. The ones near Nungambakkam Rly Stn, Siva Vishnu Temple and Pondy Bazaar Naidu Hall come to my mind. Most of these guys don’t sell second hand books. Do these guys also buy second-hand books?

  6. Krithiga (unregistered) on June 1st, 2006 @ 2:32 pm

    “Do these guys also buy second-hand books?” I haven’t tried selling my books to them.

    The pavement stores do sell pirated versions too (mostly Dan Brown and Paulo Coelho stuff for pricey seventy-eighty rupees), but the ones I mentioned here are second-hand.

  7. Elizabeth Bennett (unregistered) on June 12th, 2006 @ 6:53 pm

    Yes, pavement shops shouldn’t be underestimated! As a collector, I’ve bought first editions of Hemingway’s ‘For Whom the Bell Tolls’, Gandhi’s ‘My Experiments with Truth’, the English translation of Camus’ ‘The Fall’, pre-WWII editions of the Pears Encyclopaedia, and many priceless books at pavement shops. It’s a long list.

    A few months back there was a spurt of exhibitions of imported books where they sold some very rare hard covers in excellent condition with dust jacket. There too I bought a number of first editions and even a non-fiction book on the River Kwai episode of WWII, signed by the author who was part of the story.

  8. Krithiga (unregistered) on June 12th, 2006 @ 9:06 pm

    Elizabeth: I really like your nick. :) That said, am really, really jealous now. FIRST EDITIONS?

  9. Elizabeth Bennett (unregistered) on June 12th, 2006 @ 10:35 pm

    Yeah, the Hemingway is “1st, w/ DJ” 1940 Charles Scribner’s Sons. :-)

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