Is Higginbothams getting outdated?


potum: Via Ravages, aka. Chandrachoodan

History: Muthiah

When I moved into Chennai in 99, my classmate took me to Higginbothams to buy books. It wasn’t strange that we didn’t choose Landmark, which was already a much bigger store. After all, my granddad had fond memories of Higginbothams also because they sold the books he had written and the magazine he founded and edited.

I wasn’t disappointed at all. I spend close to two hours in the classics session. I had no money, so I tried to read.

Today, that bookstore is a pale shadow compared to what Landmark, and to a lesser extent, Odyssey have become. But still don’t you love that building?

16 Comments so far

  1. Shubhangi (unregistered) on February 21st, 2008 @ 3:31 am

    Can you please edit the material before posting? We know that you volunteer your time to support metblogs but the spelling and grammar mistakes are a disgrace. (found, spend, session, out of dated, into, took me Higgin)

  2. Radman (unregistered) on February 21st, 2008 @ 5:09 am

    1. To Shubhangi: thank you for lowering my blood pressure. 2. To Nandhu: Run, don’t walk, to the bookstore. Get a copy of "the elements of style" by strunk and white. Read this book. Keep this book by your bedside. Learn from this book. You are not ready for classics, get back to basics.

  3. Ram N (unregistered) on February 21st, 2008 @ 9:51 am

    I continue enjoying the comments section of the Chennai MetBlogs……
    Some how the San Jose, Melbourne MetBlogs are better and covers well ….

  4. Anonn (unregistered) on February 21st, 2008 @ 10:09 am

    Hey, the building may look off color but what about the quality of books they stock. I must agreed with Ram N. Some posts are being posted just for the heck of posting. Let us have some quality posts or relevant ones.

  5. nandhu (unregistered) on February 21st, 2008 @ 6:57 pm

    uhuh, will do!

  6. Raj (unregistered) on February 22nd, 2008 @ 2:07 am

    Where is this place.. i dont have a clue.. Sorry new to chennai !!

  7. Manmadh (unregistered) on February 22nd, 2008 @ 5:15 pm

    Why visit places like Higginbothams, Oxford,etc when one can buy the same book for a fraction of the price from a roadside vendor. Why should we Indians pay humongous amounts as royalty to foreign authors? I am a regular customer at pavement stalls and feel great when I can buy a book with a regular sticker price of Rs.500 for around Rs.60-75.

  8. Partha (unregistered) on February 22nd, 2008 @ 9:25 pm


    Unless you are buying used copies you are ripping the authors of these books of their legitimate income. It is OK to argue that prices of legally sourced books are high. It is not OK to justify contributing to theft.

  9. nandhu (unregistered) on February 23rd, 2008 @ 1:29 am

    Higginbotham’s is on Mount Road, a km away from Spencer Plaza towards LIC Building.

  10. Parthasarathy (unregistered) on February 23rd, 2008 @ 11:58 am


    Thats a nice idea. But the roadside vendors only have the ‘regular’ titles which were bestsellers years, if not decades, ago!

    Chennai does not have a good reading habit and the last library the government maintained – Connemara, is currently being used productively by voracious spiders and insects. Unlike in Europe – where most of the best and readable books are from – the government here does not promote reading. Even while they ask you to desist from smoking ( if they have nt accepted money from the tobacco companies that is, but that, before you shoot me down, is besides the point ). Even the British Council Library, probably the best thing to happen to Chennai from British rule, and a previous haven for book cynosures, is on the verge of closure.

    If you want to browse through the really good books, you simply cannot find them in Chennai. The alternative – if you know first-hand or previously, that the book is really really good, is to ask Landmark or Higginbothams to order/import one for you. You simply do not have the luxury of browsing for the really good books. Sad!

  11. Navneeth (unregistered) on February 23rd, 2008 @ 2:29 pm

    "Chennai does not have a good reading habit" What’s that all about??

    British Council Library on the verge of closure? Parthsarathy, are you writing from the future or something, when the people of this city have completely lost the "little" good reading habits they have now? The place is actually getting better by the day, if you ask me.

  12. Parthasarathy (unregistered) on February 23rd, 2008 @ 3:47 pm

    Navneeth, If you have been visiting the British Council Library in the 80’s and even 90’s, you will appreciate the sharp fall in both the quality and quantity of books available there. This is due to the declining role of the commonwealth and cost-cutting by the Brits. Underline the fact that Chennai can be deprived of its British Council Library without hurting the interests of the Queen. They have already closed two out of 11 libraries in India. Anyone who appreciates the role of a good library will understand that degrading the British Council Library is a strategic blow to Chennaites.

  13. Guy (unregistered) on February 26th, 2008 @ 6:45 pm

    Higginbothams is now just a sorry old building. You can’t help comparing it with Landmark. The layout and the arrangement of books at Hb would confuse a first time visitor. Landmark is not that bad. Landmark is more organised and looks much more sophisticated. There are people ready to help you if you’re looking for something you couldn’t find on the shelves. You can also order a book not available with them. Landmark will source it from the publisher abroad. Higginbothams and learn much more from Landmark. Like Higginbothams, there’s another lousy bookshop called Fountainhead, at Radhakrishnan Road, Mylapore. They’re doing some really professional outdatedness.

  14. Navneeth (unregistered) on February 27th, 2008 @ 9:04 pm

    FountainHead has been like that for a loooong time, almost since they opened.

  15. Dilip Muralidaran (unregistered) on February 29th, 2008 @ 3:22 pm

    Parthasarathy: Do you really visit the british council at all because whatever you wrote is not in sync with reality. The British Council simply attracts another kind of crowd now. "The IT Guys" like myself and the "College/School Crowd". BCL has the largest collection of IT books any library has and they are all the latest and updated copies. I’m a member of the BCL for the past 7 years and i’ve used their IT section like hell. I also use their DVD lending library and its pretty good. 600 a year and unlimited DVD rentals? Thats an awesome deal and they always update their collection by the month which is great.

    I know books on their other collection is good too but i have not personally read anything from them other than IT and Scientific journals so i cannot speak for it. Someone else here can speak on that, i assume.

    BCL also has a good collection of accounting and scientific journals and you can always block a reservation for a book it its not available. I dont know any other library that provides such services. Additionally you can book your borrowing books online too!

  16. parthasarathy (unregistered) on March 1st, 2008 @ 8:54 am

    Dilip, It may just be that while you have been using BCL for the past 7 years, I have for about 2 decades now. I must admit that I have nt used it in the past 6 months or so though. Maybe we could have an opinion from someone who has used the library since a really long period.

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