Sellers, buyers of rare books make the most of World Book Fair

Vijaylaxmi Soni realised it was impossible for her and her orphaned nephew to stock over 2,000 books left behind by her late brother. 

It was quite a task for her 23-year-old nephew Piyush Pahuja, who has learning disability, to maintain these books as a year after his father’s death in 2012, his mother passed away too.

This is when Vijaylaxmi decided to put her brother’s collection of books up for sale at the ongoing New Delhi World Book Fair. “Muralidhar’s (her brother) collection of books is a mixed bag of ancient history, spiritual, architecture and literature. Most of the books in his collection are either rare or out-of-print. You can spot early-edition copies of interesting books such as History of Poros, Myths, and Symbols of Indian Art at our stall,” Vijaylaxmi said.

Another reason that she cites behind selling the books is that these would remain among people who value books.    

Muralidhar, Faridabad-based engineer, extensively studied Sanskrit, religion and ancient history. Besides carefully collecting rare books over the years, he had also contributed to writings of Indian history. “His son, however, refuses to read even newspapers. He is good at sports. Piyush bagged two gold medals in last year’s Special Olympics held in Australia,” Vijaylaxmi said.

Special Olympics is held for athletes with intellectual disability, she added.

Vijaylaxmi’s idea to put up the rare collection of books on sale seems to have clicked. Tara Singh, a collector of rare books, was seen for the second day at this stall. “Yesterday I had picked up books on religion. I want to collect books on ancient history today,” Tara said.

Books at this stall are available between Rs 100 and Rs 1,000. “I will open a fixed deposit for Piyush from the profits earned,” Vijaylaxmi said.

Once the fair is over, Piyush will accompany her to Pune where she is based.
She was seen firmly refusing books to customers who were trying to bargain hard. “We can bargain only up to an extent,” she added.

Mega Shrivastava, a commerce student at Delhi University, said a bargain counter like this is a break from the regular ones, which sell quick reads as the likes of “Daniel Steele and Jackie Collins”. “I picked up three books of John Grisham from another bargain counter as I did not want to shell out money for the original price. This year’s bargain counters show a marked improvement from last year’s with diverse collection of books,” said the teenager.

While a few book shops from Daryaganj and Gurgaon were seen giving books at a flat price of Rs 100, others were giving a 50 per cent discount on the original price. “Several books that we are selling here are second hand. The rest are being away at discounted rates for stock clearance,” said Navneet Verma, a book dealer.

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