The booming art market in India has all it takes to maintain the growth momentum, barring one prerequisite - accessibility to quality books on the subject.
But the gap is being filled and the country's first art bookstore, the Vadehra Bookstore, which opened shutters on Friday in an upend locality in the Capital, has brought literature, catalogues, texts and anthologies related to art under one roof - and much more.
It has given art lovers, researchers and writers a reading room for the first time with more than 1,200 titles to choose from. The Foundation of Indian Contemporary Art sponsors the Vadehra reading room.
"The idea to set up a bookstore-cum-reading room has been floating around for a while. Many people who visit our galleries complain that there was no place in the capital which offered them space to read about art and a bookstore from which to source their supply of books," Parul Vadehra of the Vadehra Bookstore told IANS.
The bookstore-cum-reading room is spread across a two-roomed enclosure with the shop in the forecourt and a sprawling reading room in the rear. Lined with shelves and a central display table crammed with memorabilia art, the store flaunts an impressive collection of modern and contemporary Indian art and foreign titles.
Some of the highlights from the shelves that has more than 2,000 titles include "Made for Maharajas: Design Diary of Princely India", "In Conversation with Husain: Paintings", "In Adoration with Krishna", "Jogen Choudhury: Enigmatic Visions" and volumes of Goya, Picasso, Monet and Francis Bacon prints by the Phaidon Press.
"We have also been trying to brand artists by offering art-related products with their signature images like they do in museums abroad," Vadehra said.
An attractive cache of memorabilia art includes five notebooks featuring cover images by Atul and Anju Dodiya, A Ramachandran, Prajakta Palav and Paramjit Singh, and tote bags and wrapping papers with prints of Hema Upadhyay's and Jogen Choudhury's works respectively.
"Art lovers in the capital or rather the country as a whole cannot source books that are out of print. On the opening day, we received a request for a book by Prabuddha Dasgupta that is not available in the market. But as we have a wide network, we might be able to get the book," Vadehra said, explaining the need for a bookstore in the capital dedicated solely to art.
Initial estimates indicated that more than 1,000 people visited the store on the first day and the store transacted brisk business. "A buyer from Mumbai, who purchases most of his books from abroad bought 10 titles," Vadehra said.
The reading room, which remains open from 11 pm to 7 pm throughout the week, has a wide range to choose from. A section is devoted to catalogues of the leading art houses and auctioneers across the globe and back issues of art magazines, including the Britain-based The Art Newspaper and The Art Forum, a publication from the US. It has almost all the issues of the Art India magazines.
A section on photography and art history boasts of all encyclopedias and picture anthologies, the high point being a rare 34-volume Dictionary of Art tracing its history from the prehistory to contemporary developments.
"There is a need to appreciate art now that the art market is growing exponentially," Vadehra said as buyers trickled in to the reading room, braving the afternoon heat, to browse through the titles before listing their purchases.
"Most of the titles in the reading room and the bookstore overlap," Vadehra said.