Mumbai: Five book stalls around the city you must visit
With Strand Book Stall downing shutters today, we find five other places where you can immerse yourself in a world of literature, keeping the legacy of physical bookshops alive
FOR: Children’s books
Located at the end of PM Road, a hop, skip and jump away from Strand, Smoker's Corner is the most unlikely looking bookshop on this list. It occupies the foyer of an old building, meaning anyone entering the structure has to walk past a display of books on either side. Almost all the titles we eye are second-hand, with pulp fiction overshadowing other genres. The place is also impossibly quiet, despite the hubbub of SoBo right around the corner. But that only adds to how conducive the shop is for bibliophiles to ruminate in peace on which title to pick up.
Timings : 10 am to 8 pm (closed on Sundays)
At: No 7, Botawala Building, PM Road, Fort.
FOR: Best bargains
Everything about this sleepy bookshop screams Leftist philosophy. But that is not surprising, since it was first established in 1953 by the Communist Party of India, before it underwent a couple of name changes to finally be called People's Book House 20 years later. As a result, we spot copies of the CPM's mouthpiece, People's Democracy, and New Age, that of the CPI, on a magazine stand in the centre of the store. Even the books — such as Face to Face with Fidel Castro: A Conversation with Tomás Borge — reflect the store's obvious leanings. This is a one-stop shop for academic writing. But skip it if you're looking for light reading material.
Timings: 10 am to 6.30 pm (closed on Sundays) aT Meher House, 15, Cawasji Patel Road, Ballard Estate, Fort.
FOR: Academic journals
We turn into a quiet lane in Kala Ghoda to find Bargain Book Hut. This chain has the best collection among all the bookstores we visit, with modern-day non-fiction getting equal shelf space as classic novels. The best part, though, is that all the titles here are sold at reduced prices even though they are as good as new. For instance, we eye a collection of JD Salinger stories being sold at `299 when its actual cost is `200 higher. So, keep an eye out for sweet deals when you visit this shop.
Timings: 11 am to 7 pm (closed on Sundays) at ITTS House, Shri Sai Baba Marg, Kala Ghoda.
FOR: Pulp fiction
Book Lovers is situated at one end of Lokhandwala Market, right before a row of clothes shops and smattering of eating outlets. The proprietor, Rudramani R Biradar, is manning the till when we visit, and we ask him whether online sites have put physical bookstores in any danger. "Look at all these clothes shops outside. Have they closed down even though you can buy things to wear on the Internet? No, they haven't. And I don't think we are going anywhere either as long as people keep reading books," he tells us, making us only hope that his words stand the test of time.
Timings: 10.30 am to 8.30 pm (open all days) at Shop no 5, Lokhandwala Shopping Complex, Andheri West.
Unless the next generation takes to browsing through titles in a bookshop, the longevity of such stores will be under obvious question. In that context, Kahani Tree is doing a stellar job of inculcating the habit of reading in kids. Sanjana Mitbander, the store's manager, tells us that apart from running a children's bookshop, the organisation also hosts story-telling sessions and helps set up libraries in schools. All of which is great, and yet, at the end of the day, we need more people to pick up this baton if we don't want more Strands shutting shop in the future.
Timings 10 am to 5.30 pm (closed on Sundays) at Industry Manor, above JK Banquet Hall, Prabhadevi.
Leaping Windows in Versova is known as much for its comic library as it is for being a favourite café of the film celebrities who live in the area. (9769998972)
Victoria Book Centre and DVD Library in Mahim is a small but well-stocked shop that offers fabulous discounts. (8655131260)
Maharashtra Mitra Mandal, or MCubed, in Bandra started off as a kids' library, but now caters to adults as well. (26411497)