In the labyrinthine lanes of Hauz Khas Village stands a bookshop that would go unnoticed by all but the most persistent — or lucky — few. Called Yodakin, this three month old store is the result of a combination of ideology and passion — to promote literature, music and cinema by independent organisations and to counter mass market-driven publishing conglomerates.
“It’s a struggle to get books by independent publishers to bookstores,” says owner Arpita Das, 35, herself an independent publisher. “What we have is absolutely A-class stuff, as good as Random House or Penguin. But in terms of visibility, they do better because of brand value… The idea was to create a space where we don’t let multinationals in at all.”
So, you’ll find none of the ‘usual’ stuff of publishing giants here. Instead, there are shelves devoted to little known publishers such as Tulika, Zubaan, the “very radical” Blaft, Katha, Women Unlimited and Seagull. The music collection ranges from new age records by Shaair + Func to late 19th-century Marathi natya sangeet. In the films section, Akiro Kurosawa rubs shoulders with the most recent award-winning documentaries. A small section is devoted to periodals such as Himal, Civil Lines and The Little Magazine, and another to children’s books.
The books are displayed- according to the publisher, not genre or author, as is common. “The idea is to get readers more familiar with the publishers and their lists,” says Das.
The response, she says, has been “super”. Das hopes to build a collection of young adult, regional language and foreign
For Delhi’s bibliophiles, Yodakin comes as a breath of fresh air. “I’ve finally found my corner in Delhi,” writes one lady in the visitors’ book. “The bookshop has redeemed our previously poor opinion of Delhi,” an Australian couple has scribbled. “I was like ‘wow, we must have done something right,” says a visibly delighted Das. “It was just a dream for me, but somehow it matters to people, which is fantastic.”
2, Hauz Khas Village (take the back lane from Delhi Art Gallery); 41787201, 26863631