Bookworms possess unique skill sets to sniff out and identify bookstores anywhere. The weekend combined book shopping with running kit collections. Bargain Book Hut is a quaint book shop nestled in the bylanes of Kala Ghoda – a little distance away from Colaba, the venue for the expo of the upcoming Navy Half Marathon. Post picking up my running number bib and racer’s kit, I visited this niche outlet of the chain bookstore known for its heavily discounted books. The space is small (unlike the humongous Kitab Khana I had featured a few days ago), but the stock keeps changing frequently. The deals on box sets, children’s books, and hardcover books are the largest, making this store a must-visit for those looking to build a home library. They have numerous compilations and anthologies that make for good gifting items. The store does not allow photography – one can click pictures of the books, but they object to photography of the interiors and decor as a whole, and posing around and clicking selfies is a definite no-no. They take their reading seriously and patrons are expected to do the same. Books receive prime importance.
Bargain Book Hut is a unit of the Wilco Publishing House – the chain of concept bookstores having been designed to make books affordable to book lovers everywhere. There are special imports made available at discounted rates, causing titles selling out and new titles being introduced frequently. This isn’t one of those bookstores within an eatery, or with an accompanying café. It is not a huge space to sit around while you skim through books. And you’re not allowed to take pictures of anything else besides the books. If one is not obsessed with selfies and social gatherings while picking up books, this is the perfect place to spend some time alone purely with books as you browse the narrow aisles. If you find yourself in the far end of South Mumbai, give this one a visit.
For all you bookworms who love the feel and smell of “real” books, and have never been able to or felt the need for switching to e-readers or tablets, today is your day. It’s Paperback Book Day!
E-readers carry a whole lot of more material in a smaller device, are convenient to lug around, and take up less physical space than paperbacks. But there is something “real” about physical books that makes some of us hold on to them even in this age of technological advancement.
Paperback Book Day is celebrated on 30th July because it is the anniversary of the day the first Penguin paperbacks were published in England in 1935. The day revolutionized reading when it was introduced. Prior to the availability of paperbacks, the hardcover book was considered the only way to read “good literature”. But they were expensive (like many of them still are), most people could not afford to buy the books, and being big and bulky they were not easy to carry around and read. The paperbacks existing prior to 1935 were cheap in price but also of poor quality – in terms of both writing and printing. “Books of substance” were not published in paperback form.
Sir Allen Lane realized that the reading material available to the average person was mostly low quality and unacceptable. He started what would become Penguin books in an attempt to make good quality literature available more easily and inexpensively. Ernest Hemingway and Agatha Christie were among the first authors whose titles were published under Penguin.
In America, Robery Fair de Graff had a similar epiphany, and decided that books should not only be cheap but small enough to carry around and be read anywhere. This venture resulted into the launch of Pocket Books in 1939. Emily Brontë, Agatha Christie and Shakespeare were some of the authors whose titles were sold by Pocket Books in the early days.
Both Penguin and Pocket Books still publish today in an era of ebooks, and bookstores still sell paperbacks even in the presence of numerous online portals. I have many fiction books on the Kindle, which are mostly one time reads or books I do not want taking up space on the bookshelves. Most of my non-fiction, academic and technical books are in the form of paperbacks.
Readers look for any excuse to read. How better to celebrate Paperback Book Day than to sit back, relax and read a book.