Ever laughed incredulously while looking at the cost of a book in a book store? I have. In fact I laugh everytime I look at the prices! Use e-books, millions have suggested. But I simply cannot read a book scrolling down using a cursor key on adobe. I need to feel it, to look a the print, to smell the freshness of the pages, to appreciate the artist’s work on the cover page and most importantly, I find it more real. I know it is tough to describe this intangible sensation. But for an ardent book lover like me, a book is better than any electronic copy of the same text. It has its charm.
But I find most of the books heavily priced. Exorbitant amounts are written on that little yellow or blue sticker on the back-cover. A book just worth a one-time read is definitely not worth shelling out a winsome 300 odd rupees. You know, the best thing I liked about Chetan Bhagat’s books (the second and third since there wasn’t much in the text to like there) was the price. Today there are so many of these books based on IIMs and IIT’s that it gets very repetitive. They are the only ones available for less than 100 bucks today! I’d say that most of the books on those shelves are worth even less. But then who will pay the publishers!
Today, good plots are rare. Rarer though are books worth a second read. There are books like ‘To kill a Mocking Bird” or “A Catcher in the Rye” or “Kite Runner” which can be read and re-read. Even the Jefferey Archers or Agatha Christie’s do good justice to their time and money. But the other run-of-the-mill titles which even the authors perhaps pen out of a lingering contract from the publisher or strive to meet the stipulated number of books to get that staggeringly huge cheque, are perhaps best read once. Then how do you spend so much of your precious money on such a colossal waste!
So the hunt began for a second-hand book store. Not having the comforts of a library anymore, I began the hunt for those little shops, tucked away in corners of this city to find those second hand books. I asked people (it is tough to find devoted readers nowadays) and google sadly wont list those kind of shops I am looking for. I walked around colleges here ( the F.C in particular) and peeked into every small by-lane. Find I did, with great difficulty on one street (which I later came to know was called Hong-Kong Street) and it was famous for the accessories more than books. But at the fag end of it, I spotted two shops which stored those books I wanted. I heartily picked out the ones I wanted though not everything I wanted was available. Even he quoted exhorbitant prices looking at my genuine interest. I was surprised when a battered copy of Doctor Zhivago that I extricated from the back shelves with sparkling eyes, immediately costed me nearly the price of an original one. “You didn’t even know this book was worth anything till now!” I protested. He replied with a business-like grin, “Rare copy madam! Naya hee le lo!” He even called up his boss who perhaps asked him how keen I was to buy and asked him to quote the price. That was another book I missed reading in my college library! Everytime I asked for it, it was always issued. So many such books I haven’t been able to read and circumstances don’t help either! Sad.
Gargi helped me out by showing me another one which was in the basement of a bag-shop on the same road.! I am planning to explore that next. I am lucky to be in Pune where there is a section still devoted to books! But still I cannot stop thinking about Delhi and its markets filled to the brim with books. I remember how I used to carry only half my luggage form home and fill the remaining half with books on my way to Goa.
So I continue to hunt for books. If people from Pune are reading this, do help me out. If nothing else, Ill be happy to get some sites for downloading e-books (sigh!).