Thursday, July 12, 2007

The joys of book shopping in Hyderabad

Just opposite my office building M.R. Book Stall have set up one of their monthly marathon sales. About twice every day (ok, not so often these days) I go and stand and look out of the darkened glass wall of my office. BOOK SALE. It says in huge red letters.

Let me describe this marathon sale phenomenon in more detail. (Marathon is a term applied by yours truly, perhaps more aptly suited to the way some people go to such sales and buy books rather than to the sale itself). There are some booksellers here in Hyderabad who specialize in old/discarded/surplus/used/new books of all sorts. They have a number of branches throughout the city. The most well known are Best Bookstore and M.R. Book Stall. From time to time they set up camp in some old unfinished building in some corner of the city. Rows and rows of shelves, still unorganized if you land up there on the first week, tarpaulin covered tables of book piles. If you peek under the tarpaulin you'll find more unopened boxes. After it's organized and if you are a bibliophile, you just need to go with a gunny sack, identify your shelves (for me it's sf) and fill your sack.

Prices mostly range from Rs. 30-50 for paperbacks. Rs. 60-120 for hardcovers. If they know something is sought-after (they sometimes do) they'll automatically ramp up the price. Of course old timers get additional discounts :D

These guys also have their permanent stores. After the initial visits to these, during which you'll probably try to soak it all up, you need to be either lucky or be a frequent visitor to pick up that rare first edition or that space opera by the Thai sf author you never thought you'd find so easily. There's no lack of collectors.

It's monsoon now, so the Sunday book market at Abids is a little dampened, but not so much. It's entirely on the footpaths, beginning from the Abid's bus stop till MPM Mall, and the road running perpendicular to it as well. Abids has it's own charm.

Of course apart from these there are the big glitzy bookstores. But that's another story.