If you’re tired of chain bookstores that all seem to carry the same titles, here’s help. The city is challenging the notion that reading is on the decline and is even exploring niches in reading tastes.
While Yodakin, a store for alternative publishers, has been on scene for a while, May Day has joined the fray. Then there are others like PPH Book Store — known for left-oriented and Russian books — who are trying to reinvent themselves.
Catching them young is Eureka, which specialises in children books. Then there is Manohar Bookstore in Darya Ganj, which specialises in books on Indian history and politics. The Jamia Maktaba at Urdu Bazar sports a good collection of poetry and Urdu literature. Here’s a selection of some interesting ones.
Open since: May 1, 2012
Where: 2254/2A, Shadi Khampur,New Ranjit Nagar, Shadipur
USP: Communist literature, pay-as-you-like cafè
It is called May Day, not just because it opened on May 1 this year. The date is synonymous with the Labour Movement. Tucked in a corner of New Ranjit Nagar, the bookstore and café carries Leftist titles as well as a good selection of fiction and non-fiction with titles such as Narcopolis, 1984, and Rafa - My Story. The ambience is made vibrant by Leftist posters, T-shirts with catchy slogans, photographs of street theatre performances on the walls. Free Wi-Fi, pay-as-you-like coffee just add to the pleasures of the space. You can also enjoy shows, and plays hosted in the adjoining Studio Safdar. The store opened in North Delhi keeping in mind that there aren’t many spaces for book lovers, says Sudhanva Deshpande, a theatre veteran who manages the store.
PPH Book Shop (Commie Book Shop)
Open since: 1939
Where: G-18, Outer Circle, Marina Arcade, Connaught Place
USP: Leftist and feminist literature, with a growing list of popular titles
Walking in the outer circle of the landmark Connaught Place, you are more than likely to overlook this dusty old gem. But this bookshop supported by the People's Publishing House, has kept its old-world charm alive. The store has a collection of titles – old and new – which you might not find together under one roof. Aside from the serious titles, you can also find something in the lighter vein - such as "Chairman Meow and the Protectors of the Proletariat". Chances are that here you will be rubbing shoulders with IAS aspirants, or you could have the whole store to yourself.
Eureka Book store
Open since: April 2003
Where: 6, Local Shopping Complex, Alaknanda
USP: Children’s books neatly categorised by age groups
The constant chirping of little ones is not one you'd expect in a bookstore but then this is no ordinary one, either. This is Eureka, the first book store in the city to specialise in children's books. In a time when it is believed that books are losing popularity among children (and adults) Eureka is a bold initiative. In the nine years since its launch, it has grown in popularity. The store is neatly divided into sections catering to different age groups. From Enyd Blyton, Judy Moody, Leo Tolstoy to picture books, which attract the kids most, the store has something for everyone in its niche. Keeping with the times, there are several titles on SMS lingo, as well. Eureka also organises an annual book fair called Bookaroo.
Open since: December 2009
Where: 2, Hauz Khas Village
USP: Alternative publishers, independent music, films, documentaries and collectibles
Alternative is what Yodakin is about. Since its launch three years back, with books only from its parent Yoda Press, the store has had quite a journey adding other content - documentaries, music and collectibles from lesser known brands and artists. You would, for example, find a documentary made on Malana, a village in Himachal Pradesh, where outsiders are not also allowed to touch anything. Yodakin also stocks books from other alternative publishing houses, which usually don't get prominence in chain bookstores. The store also has a resource centre on sexuality. It is now being developed into a full-fledged library. You can also donate books to the centre.