How this Bandra bookstall is keeping the tradition of newspaper reading alive

Serving as a prime news aggregator of Bandra, Ajit Shelar’s book stall disseminates news via daily newspapers and film-focused magazines. Evolving over a span of seven decades, his store has transformed into the very medium through which the latest filmy and worldly stories reach the local residents.

Updated On: 2023-08-28 02:48 PM IST

Compiled by : Ainie Rizvi

For the last 70 years, Ajit Shelar's bookstall has been a fixture at Mehboob Khan Chowk, serving as a hub for newspapers and magazines in the vicinity

While the newly minted prints arrive via autorickshaws from the printing press, his newspaper distribution syndicate arrives at this store at 4 am. Starting from that point, he categorises the bundles based on the respective publications and then allocates them to his agents, each entrusted with specific localities. 

Ajit's distribution network ensures timely delivery of newspapers as well as various regional language papers including Hindi, Gujarati, and Marathi. These papers find their way to the nooks and crannies of Mount Mary, Hill Road, Carter Road, Waroda Road, and more

After flunking various subjects in grade X in 1983, Ajit was bequeathed the store as a befitting role post his defeat at school. From that point onward, his reading was limited to the titles of publications bundled as newspapers, and his writing was confined to recording the requested copy numbers for specific regions

In the 1980s, it was primarily dedicated readers who would make their way to his shop situated adjacent to the renowned Parsi café – Goodluck. His book kiosk held particular appeal among cinema luminaries who frequented Mehboob Studios. Notable personalities such as Salman Khan, Jackie Shroff, Rekha, Subhash Ghai, John Abraham, Mumtaz, and others were familiar faces at his store. "Their vehicles would halt at my stall, and with a quick glance, I'd discern which magazine to retrieve for them," Shelar recalls with a hint of nostalgia

As a proud citizen of India, I encourage my fellow countrymen to cultivate the habit of daily newspaper reading,", says Shelar with a firm tone. He believes that intelligence isn't solely defined by degrees but by a deep awareness of both national and international events. When asked about the decline in readership, he responds by indicating that readership has, in fact, rebounded.“The permanence of ink on paper stands as conclusive and can be contested in any courtroom proceeding. Such undeniable solidity is a rarity in the transient realm of smartphones" added Shelar

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