“Its not just the price. Rare collections and out-of-print books drag people to the festival”

‘A rose is a rose is a rose,’ says Gertrude Stein in her poem, Sacred Emily. It applies to old books as well if patronage was an indication. One can find people vigorously trying to spy a pearl within the piles of old books that are stacked at the Vijayawada Book Festival.

Second hand books need not essentially have dog-eared pages, cracked spines and scratched covers. The collections are so eclectic that book lovers are seen lost browsing through the pages of old books neatly exhibited.

The seller-speak for novels, memoirs, whodunits, quiz books, classics, encyclopaedias, coffee-table books, pulp fiction, foreign magazines and sometimes, rare first editions.

The English books from literature to philosophy, management to medicine and general books are available at stalls like Pooja Book Centre, M. R. Books, and Unique Book Centre. “It is not just price, but the rare collection and out-of-print ones that drag the people to old book stores, explains Ajay Pandey of Pooja Book Centre (stall No. 10-11). As many as 10,000 books were made available in wide range of subjects at the stall, he adds. The people who visit these stalls are diverse — students, professionals and reading enthusiasts are just some of those who buy books. Used and low-priced editions of literature, fiction, philosophy and history etc. are in high demand at these stalls. “The people still love to buy old books. They don’t overlook the old book even at the book fairs like this,” says Md. Latif of M.R. Books (stall No.187).

“The used books, second-hand books or old books whatever be the epithet, the sellers have good collection,” says S. Ramya, a CA student. The books may be soiled and do not have scent of fresh book, but they still carry value and are worth reading. The books come at throwaway price, she points out. An original hardcover of some of these books can cost around Rs.1,000 at a normal bookstore, but the used books are sold at Rs.300 to Rs.400, she adds.

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