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The bookstore battle

NIKHIL VARMA
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Reading How do you shop for your books? Online or at traditional bookstores?

Browsers’ cornerAt a standalone bookstorePhoto: G.P. Sampath Kumar
Browsers’ cornerAt a standalone bookstorePhoto: G.P. Sampath Kumar

Until some years ago, buying books meant heading to stores with massive bookshelves. They were places where you experienced the joy of discovering unheard-of books that turned out to delightful reads. However, with the Internet revolution, more and more people started buying books online.

Student Arvind Kishore enjoys fiction and thrillers. He prefers to buy them online. “I get fair discounts and a fresh copy. It also saves me the time of going to a bookstore and hunting across three floors for a single title. In many bookstores, the books are often dog-eared. I go to bookstores only when I am looking for titles that are not easily available online.”

Discovering new authors

This point of view does not find resonance with Mithun, a professional who reads fiction and non-fiction. “I love reading and collecting books. I buy online, at times, especially because it allows me to pre-order new releases. However, I love exploring bookstores. There, I can discover new books and authors, learn more about styles and trends and re-read books that I have previously enjoyed. The online space is impassive.”

Value books better

Journalist Shone Babu used to buy books online. “I soon realised that I was hoarding books and not reading them.” He has rediscovered his love for bookstores. “There’s a difference when you can pick and browse through books by hand. You buy less but you value them more, because of the effort taken. I ended up reading more after I went back to buying from bookstores.”

Says Anirban Mukherjee, a PR executive: “Though I do buy some books online, I love going to bookstores. There is something about leafing through the books, lazing around and reading them that makes the whole trip worth the effort.”

Mayi Gowda, who manages the popular Blossom bookstore in Bangalore, downplays the threat of online bookstores on business. “Initially, we did suffer a drop in sales of new titles, but it has stabilised. With the recent hike in prices by online platforms, people are back at our store.”

NIKHIL VARMA

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