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They serve who stand ’n’ wait

NIKHIL VARMA
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Trends When they first appeared, people bought frantically from online bookstores. After a bit, though, avid readers returned to bookstores for the real deal

Take your pickOfflinePhoto: G.P. Sampath Kumar
Take your pickOfflinePhoto: G.P. Sampath Kumar

Buying books was such fun, walking past massive bookshelves with a sea of books stacked side by side. There was the joy of discovering small, unheard-of books that turned out to be a delightful read. The internet like it has changed everything else has also changed the way we buy books. Arvind Kishore, a PU student enjoys reading fiction and thrillers. He buys the books online as he “Gets discounts. It also saves me the time of going to a bookstore and hunting three floors for a single title. In many commercial bookstores, the books are often dog eared and do not look fresh. When you order books online, the books are new and seem more readable. I go to bookstores only when I am looking for titles that are not easily available online.”

He adds, “If you are not an avid reader, you can easily find bestsellers online. The fact that boxed series of Harry Potter and P.G. Wodehouse among others are easily available also makes online ordering an easier option.”

This point of view does not find resonance with Mithun, an employee of EMC, who reads books ranging from fiction, non fiction, science fiction etc. “I love reading books and collecting them. I use flipkart and other online websites at times, especially since the pre-order facility ensures that I get the books as soon as they are released. However, I love exploring bookstores, that lets me reread books that I have enjoyed reading, lets me discover new books and authors and learn more about new styles and trends. The online space is very impassive and hardly offers any space for people who like books to engage in conversation.”

Shone Babu, a journalist, used to buy books from many online platforms initially. “I soon realised that I was hoarding books and not reading them. Also, books are no longer very cheap online.“I have rediscovered a love for bookstores recently. There is a difference when you can pick up a book and browse. You buy less but you value them more, because of the effort made to walk up to the market, perhaps read some excerpts while in the shop surrounded by other books. I ended up reading more when I started buying from stores.”

Anirban Mukherjee, a PR executive agrees, “Though I do buy some books online, I love going to bookstores. There is something nice about holding books, and reading it that makes the whole trip to the bookstore worth the effort.”

Mayi Gowda, who manages the popular Blossom book store in the city downplays the threat of online bookstores on his business.

“We deal with older books and much of our business is concerned with second hand books. Initially, we did suffer with a drop in sales of our new titles, but it has stabilised. The recent hike in prices by online platforms has ensured that more people come to our store.”

Gowda ruled out any direct price war with online platforms. “Those companies do not make any profit and can afford to sell books at very low rates without looking at a deficit in the balance sheet. It does not make economic sense for us to do the same.”

NIKHIL VARMA

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