There is a paucity of well stocked book stores in Tiruchi
Thank the papyrus plant. Had it not been there centuries ago, most people's `close companion' would not have been there. Books in the Middle Ages were so expensive that they were chained to prevent theft. Technology has made them affordable to most these days.Even as schools reopen and parents cram into bookstalls, many shops have introduced new schemes to allure customers to balance the sale of academic and non-academic books. Is there a constant need for marketing gimmicks?"Not really," says A. Rajesh, proprietor of Odyssey. Mills and Boon and international best sellers keep the sales going, he says. "The Da Vinci Code is doing really well after all the controversies." The book has sold over hundred copies in the past two months.
But the city is far behind places like Chennai and Coimbatore in terms of sale of non-fiction. Self-improvement and popular spiritual books are exceptions. The demand is always high for personality development books and, of late, it is exponentially increasing.Bestsellers like `World is Flat' and `The Monk who Sold his Ferrari' go well but pick up late. "We learn about new arrivals either through the Internet or from friends. So, it takes time for us to decide on whether to buy those books," says Karthik Nagaraj, a second-year student of National Institute of Technology.Sellers blame it on the institutions. "Schools and colleges must come up with innovative ways of encouraging students to read books," says Rajesh. He feels that the main source of information for a student can be schools and colleges. They can put up notices about the week's best sellers, says Philip Solomon, a schoolteacher.But another major wherefore seems to be the cost factor. International and New York best sellers cost not less than Rs 300,which, apparently, makes people hesitate to buy. "We have to think twice before getting a book," says Ramanathan, a software engineer."Along with quality, price matters for us the most. But most famous books bite our budget." Students argue that academic pressure confines them to science and maths. "If we are seen reading a non-academic book, we are chided," complains Reagan Shekar, a higher secondary student. "My relatives advise me not to read non-academic books."
Colleges are encouraging students to read more books and readership steadily increases, claims Kavitha Shankar, a professor of English literature. "The sale may not be too high as most students prefer reading at libraries than owning a copy." Students do agree. "Every fiction costs at least a minimum of Rs 200. I feel it is not worth it for a single reading," says Karthik. Reagan reiterates that he and his friends take books from college library and circulate them and none owns fiction.The other reason attributed to this fewer number of book-buffs in the city is the paucity of well-stocked bookshops. Readers feel cities like Chennai and Bangalore have attractive bookshops but Tiruchi shops lack that ambience, except for a couple. Many feel they will not be pre-decided about what they have to buy. Bookshops are places where one can learn about new arrivals and classics. Karthik reminisces his experience when he visited the biggest book mall in New York. "It was a life-time experience." Tiruchiites have to wait for a longer time for their long cherished desire to shop in dashing bookstores as the city still has a long way to go in terms of book sales and readership when compared to other major cities.S. AISHWARYA