Published by EBC, latest coat pocket edition of Constitution to hit market this week | Latest News India - Hindustan Times
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Published by EBC, latest coat pocket edition of Constitution to hit market this week

Jul 07, 2024 11:55 PM IST

Rahul Gandhi carries a copy everywhere transforming it into a ubiquitous accessory and sparking a surge in demand at bookstores across the national capital

New Delhi: It was the symbol of this summer’s national election, and it almost became one of the inaugural sessions of the 18th Lok Sabha.

Lucknow-based Eastern Book Company has designed and published the coat pocket edition of the Constitution (Sourced Photo/EBC)
Lucknow-based Eastern Book Company has designed and published the coat pocket edition of the Constitution (Sourced Photo/EBC)

During the campaign and over the past week in Parliament, enough representatives across parties have held up the distinctive red and black book, the pocket edition of the Constitution, put together by Supreme Court lawyer Gopal Sankaranarayanan and published by the Lucknow-based Eastern Book Company (EBC).

Congress leader and Leader of Opposition in the Lok Sabha Rahul Gandhi carries a copy everywhere transforming it into a ubiquitous accessory and sparking a surge in demand at bookstores across the national capital. Sankaranarayanan told HT that the latest edition of the book, along with translations in different languages, is set to hit the market next week prompted by the surge in popularity. The first edition was released in 2009 and is priced at Rs.595.

He said, “I felt that the Constitution wasn’t something that the public were aware of. So, it was necessary to put the Constitution in the hands of the very people to whom it belongs. I wanted it to be a compact and simple edition with explanations.”

Commenting on the increased demand for his edition, he said, “There has been an overall increase over the past five years as several lawyers have started buying it and endorsements by the judges of the court who rely on this copy more than any other copy when they have constitutional cases.”

But he admits that the current popularity of the book, a more recent phenomenon, is “because of the political events.”

“Whatever the reason might be behind the popularity, I am happy that the Constitution has been given the ‘kind of importance it deserves,” he said.

Samarth Joshi who worked in the Congress’ election war room said that the edition’s compact nature is its big appeal and that it was the Congress’ election war room that decided that it would be a good idea to have Gandhi carry it in rallies.

Since January, EBC says it has sold 5000 copies of the book this year and hopes to sell another 10,000 by the time the year comes to an end.

“We’re hoping that the interest not only comes from lawyers and judges but also from the general public. It is not an amorphous thing anymore,” said Summet Malik, EBC director.

Malik added that the 17th edition has gone to print and will hit the market in the next two to three days. “The print run is in thousands because the demand has increased exponentially. We had to hurry up the process of printing the edition due to the immense demand,” he added.

Ashutosh Bharadwaj, who works at Jain Book Depot, a household name, especially for lawyers and law enthusiasts in the capital, said that the bookstore has sold over 100 copies of the Pocket edition of Constitution. ”It is in such high demand that we have constantly been placing orders with the publisher. Everyone comes in asking for the book.”

Abhinav Bamhi, who is a fourth-generation bookseller at the iconic Faqir Chand bookstore nestled in Khan Market, said that the “interesting” thing is that while there is usually demand for books that explain the constitution, this time it is the text itself that is in demand. Bamhi said that he has been trying to procure more copies of the edition for the past week, in vain.

That’s the same problem other store owners have faced.

The Amrit Book Company, one of the oldest bookstores in Delhi in the heart of Connaught Place, was started in 1936 by a Punjabi immigrant, Amit Dhar Nullay, and is now run by his son and his grandkids Puneet and Sumit. The store has the fingerprint version of the Constitution on the front display. "Everyone has been calling and asking for the book that Rahul Gandhi holds!” said Sumit Nullay.

That isn’t surprising. “You won’t believe the number of calls I have made to get the book but the publishing company is facing such an acute shortage, as soon as they print it--it gets sold out. I get endless calls daily from customers who want the book,” said Mithilesh Singh, who works as the floor manager at Bahrisons Booksellers.

In the meantime, however, there has been a sale of the expansive version of the constitution published by Fingerprint-- the one Akhilesh Yadav and Dimple Yadav held up in Parliament. Bamhi added that there is also demand for Fali S Nariman’s “You must know your Constitution”, Anurag Bhaskar’s ”The Foresighted Ambedkar: Ideas that Shaped Indian Constitutional Discourse”, Austin Granville’s “The Indian Constitution”, and Tripurdaman Singh’s “Sixteen Stormy Days: The Story of the First Amendment of the Constitution of India”.

The demand is not just limited to the big bookstores, Mohammed Iqbal who has been selling books on the roadside in CP for the past 20 years has young customers coming up and asking if he has a “cheaper” version of the book since the original one retails between 800-900 rupees which a young student might not be able to afford. Iqbal said,” I have been trying to get a cheaper version, so many students have come to me asking for the book but I cannot find any.”

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