Sunday, 22 September 2013

Bidding farewell to Book Retail Outlets in India

The wafting scent of Mocha coffee, and the endless shelves of books, books, and books, people, browsing through shelves of books, toys, compact discs of, classical, trance, pop, and rock music genres, you name it! One of the excuses for visiting the Ambience Mall in Gurgaon was a visit to the the reliance Times Out Book retail outlet! The ambience of the store, the sight of the books lining the shelves, the possibility of coming across a once forgotten book, too great a temptation to resist!
The first inkling of of change was carried  in by reports about one of the really big retail book outlets in Mumbai shutting shop. Crossroads was one big book retail outlet that had shut down shop. The actual shut down was preceded by a whole season of incredible discounts, and for once it seemed as if the reading of books had once again become the rage! I thought that perhaps this would not happen in Gurgaon or Delhi, but then it seems, we cannot ignore the fact that today it is not lucrative to run retail outlets for books which are spread over a large area! Books, it seems have gradually become less popular among shoppers who visit Malls on weekends! All this in spite of the rage and craze that books by indigenous Indian writers like Amish and Vikram Seth seem to whip amongst some of the casual and even hard-core readers.
When my favoured Book Retail outlet in the Ambience Mall, Gurgaon began to offer a seventy percent discount on books, little did I imagine that I would soon be falling back on memories based on my experience of browsing through the books on offer, and  demanding for one of the latest books , “Return of a King” by William Dalrymple which incidentally I got! The retail store also had a collection of some of the most sought after classics, like King Arthur by M.K.Hume or even books by J.R.R. Tolkien!
Ultimately for the true blood book worm, nothing can beat the experience of reading a good book, the tactile sensation of paper between your fingers, the scent of the print and the paper, the sensuality of an unbroken spine, the colourful design of the cover, and the  crinkle of the paper, are all experiences that cannot be found in reading e-books! I guess one of the reasons for the decreasing sales in larger book outlets is not only the growing popularity of E-books, but also online shopping portals which will provide you with the latest books delivered straight to your residence address!
I guess the hardest hit by the decision of managements to shut some of the larger and well known book retail outlets will be book worms, avid readers, retired professional, research scholars, house-wives, and students studying in schools and colleges. The Reliance Times out retail outlet at Ambience mall had one of the best collections of books under the classics sections, books that were nothing short of a goldmine for students studying English Honours from Delhi University! Well again I guess, students studying English Literature will soon do away with the study of actual books, and instead will read from E-Books stored on their I-Pads and kindles!

Just above the now shut down Book outlet, is a whole floor dealing with electronic products, and it was during one of my visits that I came across a Kindle on display there. I guess I might as well do a rethink about purchasing one, if books are to become scarce! I have also noticed that down the years, the number of new books being purchased by public libraries is going down, no wonder that each time I visit a popular British Library on Kasturba Gandhi Road in Delhi I realise that I have already read most of the fiction titles and that I need to literally hunt for those I have not read. The last time I visited the library, I was able to get two fiction titles and then decided to add a history book to the list of books that I wanted to borrow! Now, I feel I should change my taste for fiction to that for history, and medical science textbooks!

1 comment:

  1. Unfortunately, the retail outlet that I have written about has finally shut down and behind the sealed doors are memories of wading through a sea of books! The wafting aroma of mocha no longer inspires inspiration, and all that remain are memories of a treasure-trove of book. Not for me the kindle or the tablet, I'd rather have a good book in my hands, to smell the ink and the sweet scent would be my choice!