But every word is original!

But every word is original!

The book store at Shankar Market is filled with a warm aroma typical of old books, ancient, yellowed tomes which have been preserved and restored painstakingly.

Known by the name Sharma Book Depot, this bookstore is as old as the market itself. Sixty years ago, this unique store, situated in a market famous for colourful fabric and mind-boggling array of women’s clothing, came into being. Set up by Binod Sharma, a journalist, the bookstore’s vision was to ‘provide expensive foreign magazines and western classics’ for all categories of readers and booklovers at cheaper rates.

A myriad collection of books of almost all genres under one roof measuring roughly 10x10 speaks volumes about the hard work and passion put in by the journalist.

International magazines like Baggers for travel enthusiasts, Food and Wine for the sophisticated who expect variety on their platter, along with the popular Cosmopolitan and Vogue, have been properly bound and stacked.

Crossing international boundaries are not just the magazines but ancient classics as well as popular literature for all age groups. From Children’s classic Hippo collection to works of Leo Tolstoy, Charles Dickens and Mark Twain, you ask and you will get it.

“I love reading second hand original books. They are cheap even though they are original and secondly it gives a wonderful feeling to think about the past the book must have had with various people,” says Sonika Chatterjee, a Delhi University student.

“These second hand original copies were collected by my father from various book centres in the Capital. He was a passionate reader. He spent his whole life collecting and preserving these books,” said Shubhangini Sharma, daughter of late Binod Sharma.

“International masterpieces like Four Revenge Tragedies, The American, The Ambassadors, Jurassic Park can’t be bought at such cheap rates. I bought the original version of Anna Karennina just for Rs 150 last month,” says Rohan Kumar, adding that he also bought a collection of short stories by Indian journalist Jug Suraiya just for Rs. 35!

The book shop is tragically now on the verge of closing as its caretaker passed away last year.
“We have no time to collect books. My brother has settled in Mumbai and my mummy and me have no knowledge about this field,” said Sharma.

To preserve original copies of great literary work of writers hailing from different countries and continents, and also to ensure greater accessibility of these books to masses, bookstore Ram Gopal Sharma and Sons have devised a ‘Lending Library’.

“We take a security fee of Rs.200 and provide free door-to-door delivery of books. We have also started an online service known as bookmeabook.com to provide busy officegoers an easy way to satiate their reading addiction,” said Satya Pal, a representative of the shop.

At every block of Connaught Place, pavement bookstalls can be spotted with books such as Karl Marx’ Das Capital, The Argumentative Indian by Amartya Sen sharing space with Two States and Mills and Boon, the popular romance fiction for women.

When asked how books like Das Capital are procured, one of the booksellers at a Connaught Place corridor bookstall said, “The patent right of these have expired. Now such books are being cheaply printed and reprinted to sell in the market.”

Requesting anonymity, he said that big booksellers based in Daryaganj market demand second hand original books from traders based in foreign countries.

“Since the last two to three years, huge containers carrying hard copies of second hand books are being imported to India from countries like America and England as people there prefer reading either online or sell hard copies of these books to waste collectors after reading them once,” said the vendor.
The huge content of these containers makes inroads in markets of major metropolitan cities like Chennai, Kolkata, Bangalore and Delhi.

However, this has also given rise to increase in practices like piracy. Further, the Internet market and companies like Flipkart have greatly reduced earnings of these vendors.

“Now vendors sell pirated copies at cheaper rates and it’s a boon for readers as well, as not all can afford books of Khan Market and other well-to-do shops,” said Mohan a book vendor since 33 years.