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Bestsellers off the street

Dan Brown’s Angels and Demons rule! Street book vendors give a thumbs-up to this fiction, which is selling in huge numbers. Jayeeta Mazumder does street shopping...

books Updated: Jun 11, 2009 20:12 IST
Jayeeta Mazumder
Jayeeta Mazumder
Hindustan Times

Dan Brown’s Angels and Demons rule! No, we are not saying that.. nor is that a review come much-too-late. The street book vendors are unanimously giving a thumbs-up to this particular fiction, that’s selling in huge numbers, right at this moment.

Reason: Dilip Marathe, a bookseller at Fountain, says, “Thanks to the adaptation, it’s now selling like hot cakes. Although it’s been around for quite sometime now, everybody seems to have woken up to this book now.”

The range of reprints and second-hand classics will invariably catch your attention and even lure you to buy (especially copies you’re tired of hunting in the established bookstores, in vain).

Elroy, a book lover spotted buying a copy of Stephenie Meyer’s Twilight, says, “I have been looking for a copy of Jhumpa Lahiri’s Unaccustomed Earth as well as Twilight. But I’ve been constantly told by the big bookstores that they are out of stock. As much as I’d like an original, I sheepishly give in to the temptation of a pirated copy.”

Awesome offers
Now, be sure of one thing.. the bestsellers on the streets are the real indicators of how well a book is doing. Mohan, a bookseller, who sits a little away from Churchgate station, tells us, “Angels and Demons, Kite Runner, The Secret are among the most sold ones. Meyer’s collection is also a hit right now.”

Ask him how many he sells per day and he replies, “I have about 100-150 books at a time. I end up selling about 25 or more copies each day. My books are priced at Rs 50 each.” He adds, “I also offer discounts. If you can return the copy in good condition, I give 50 per cent cash back. You know, you have to compete with the other sellers in the area.”

Join the league
It’s a fact. Mohan is not the only one in the league.. you’d discover many like him, in different pockets of the city, like Fountain or Maheshwari Udyan in Kings’ Circle.

Anup has one of the widest range of books— you’d find copies of Little Women, The Hobbit, Lonely Planet to even the latest, The Winner Stands Alone. He talks knowledgeably, “I can get you the rare classics, political biographies, art and design books to even the latest bestsellers. At the moment, Angels and Demons is definitely the topper. But that’s not the only one.. there’s Twilight, White Tiger and A Thousand Splendid Suns that readers come by asking for.”

To buy or not to buy
The best part, about these book vendors, is the discounts. You can take a book home and read it in half the price.. provided you return them unharmed and within a stipulated time. The issue of buying books from street vendors remains debatable. The naysayers will tell you that it doesn’t add to the brand or the author.

However, knowing that the latest book is out of stock at your favourite bookstore, how hard do you find it to resist the urge to pick it up off the road, on your way back home?

First Published: Jun 11, 2009 19:51 IST