Dusty tomes, tempting discounts

As Delhiites throng the ongoing Delhi Book Fair to fetch a reasonable deal from their favourite
publishers, one could take a detour to visit the rustic lanes of Daryaganj in Old Delhi and lose oneself in what has come to be known as a booklover’s paradise.

Known to have set up around the 1960s, the Daryaganj book market still occupies a soft spot among avid readers in the capital. Over the years, it has become a nucleus for major publishing houses and booksellers, ranging from Oxford University Press to Pratiyogita Darpan. However, a mile long road stretch of footpath, beginning from Delite Cinema accommodates around 200 small booksellers on any given Sunday, for whom selling books is the only source of income.


Unloading sacks bursting with books of every genre, these small booksellers disp­lay books in such a way that it would be easily noticeable and accessible to the custo­mers. Scattered across the pavement, these yellowish, mostly second-hand books are indeed a treasure for those who love their books. It is a common sight to see hard-headed bargaining between the retailer and custo­mer, happening across the streets. Indeed, it is a time-consuming task and only those with patience can hope to find their treasure trove.


Retailers have in their possession a lot of varieties ranging from novels by Dan Brown, RK Narayan, Chinua Achebe and many more.


“One could easily see the paperback and hardbound copies of various novels, bibliographies and autobiographies. From fiction to non- fiction, Indian authors to International, everything is here,” says Rajpal Sharma, a retailer. Cheaper school and college textbooks and books focused on competitive exams, attract most of the students who throng the market with their parents in tow.

One of the interesting


fea­­­­­t­­­ures of this Kitaab market is the fact that retailers give an extra discount if a custom­er exchanges books with a new one.

“These days’ college textbooks have become relatively pricey. Daryaganj is indeed a saving grace for me as I can get it for cheaper rates, if I bargain, may be more,” said Ashutosh, a history student of Delhi University.

Though there are snobbish areas across the city, Daryaganj book market has thrived over the years so much so that, not only students but journalists, theorists and aca­­demicians too make
time to visit this interesting place often.

“The place is a book lover’s paradise. There is something for everyone. It has been a while since I have ordered a book from Flipkart or Amazon as Daryaganj seems to be the best option. I got myself a genuine copy of Julian Assange's autobiography for just Rs 200 while nowhere; neither in Flipkart nor Amazon could I find the book costing less than Rs400,” says sports writer Andrew Amsan.

Though the exact source from where the booksellers procure these books is unclear, but many believe
that they obtain these from various junk dealers and leftover pieces from publishing houses.

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