As independent bookstores battle dwindling sales and encroachments by big enterprises, they can find some solace with Mumbaiites who would rather skip the Landmarks and pick the little store around the corner.
Anuradha Sengupta, managing editor of online children’s forum Jalebi Ink, says that the homely feel of smaller bookshops often reminds her of “returning to the womb”.
“At Danai, you can spend hours reading away from the traffic, and unlike some chain stores, there is no disturbing music playing in the background,” said Sengupta, who believes she could not have chanced upon Michael Morpurgo or the Monty Python series at a standardised chain store. “You never know what you will find at these shops!”
For Goldwin Fonseca, the charm of independent book houses lies in the rapport they build with their customers. “You can step into these stores for a pleasant conversation with owners, who recommend good titles and at times even go the extra mile to get you a book,” said the 22-year-old manager of city-based band Something Relevant.
However, with offers of discounts and efficient home delivery, online book shopping has lured away a large section of book buyers.
Thane-resident Kirtana Krishnan, who lives far away from most independent bookstores, has taken to online shopping, even if it is with a feeling of nostalgia. “The charm of leafing through a book at a store is irreplaceable and not quite possible online,” said Krishnan, 22, an independent designer.
Poet Annie Zaidi sums up the tough struggles of small bookshops on a positive note. “For true book lovers, any new store that is not standardised and offers something different from the usual is always welcome.”