21 Aug 2007
My fav bookshop is the Midland Bookshop at Aurobindo Market. I remember when I started frequenting this place every alternate day about seven years ago devouring the books from their film section with my friend Rajat Ghose. In fact, even today their film section remains depleted and has not been able to regain its former glory. Both of us would pounce on any new book that would be remotely connected to film.
Years later, whenever I talk to people about their fav bookshops they have a quizzical expression when it comes to Midland. They claim that the place is very disorganized and cramped. Most of them prefer a larger store like Om Book Store (Vasant Vihar & Saket) or Landmark (Gurgaon).
I guess once we get used to how books are arranged in a shop, one knows exactly where to go for their kind of books and it does not bother them how the rest of the shop looks like. In any case i think most of the people who come to Midland are probably heavy duty (fiction/non fiction) readers who pick up their own books. In Om Book Store it mostly people who have an interest in coffee table books, children's books or books on art and design. Bahri's in Khan Market (very overrated) just are not interested in customers who browse - even the guard gives you a dirty look if you hang around for too long. They prefer their customers to ask for a book and they will hand it to you - like old kirana stores in your neighborhood.
The worst of them all is Fact and Fiction near Priya cinema. The owner is always in a bad mood, immersed in his own world (mostly listening to music) and not interested whether you are going to buy anything at all. I guess his main customers are from Vasant Vihar and the goras who live there. But he has a good collection. If I like a book at that store, I make a note and then buy it from Midland !
cartoon : Bill Woodman