We all celebrate our Sunday after a long working week by sleeping late into the morning. But every Sunday Sumit Verma closes his bookshop in R.K. Puram to sit on the streets of Daryaganj to sell the second hand books he has acquired during the week.
“I earn Rs. 8,000 to 10,000 on this day. I sell books ranging in price from Rs. 10 to Rs. 2,500. The most expensive books are of foreign publishers or study materials of institutes,” says Sumit as he counts his money sitting on a stool. The Daryaganj second hand books market opens at 8 a.m. and closes at 6 p.m. and has been continuing the tradition for many years.
The shops start from Delhi Gate selling a wide variety of wares from food and clothes to books. All kinds of books are available here -- novels, school and college texts, medical and engineering tomes, comics…..
Shop owners buy the books at throwaway prices from students or professionals. Often they tap into collections that have been donated by institutions and libraries. After painstakingly sorting out the books and putting some in better shape by binding them, the shops manage a 20 per cent profit through selling them on the pavements.
Unlike olden times, thanks to Internet and information overkill, readers know exactly what they want to buy. Says Sumit, “Earlier older educational books used to be sold as there was no awareness about the edition of books but after new media has entered, people google to know about a particular book before buying, so they want recent books. Now, not every book gets sold.” There are about 400-500 customers who just come to inquire, while only 100-125 of these people actually buy.
Walking on the sidewalks of Delhi, customers are overwhelmed by the reasonable cost of the books and a book lover who comes here once can’t stop wandering these streets of Old Delhi week after week. “My parents told me about this market two years ago,” says Athar Aslam, a student from Indraprastha University. His brother, Uzair Aslam from Jamia Millia Islamia, adds, “We both come here at the beginning of every semester to buy our course books.”
The Municipal Corporation of Delhi gives a slip of Rs. 25 every Sunday to authorise the stalls for the day, thanks to ‘Sunday Book Bazaar Patri Welfare Association’. There are around 200 street book stalls put up every weekend.
For decades bibliophiles have been thronging the streets of Delhi’s Daryaganj to browse and buy second-hand versions of their favourite titles