Iconic bookstore Hyderabad

After 29 years, Hyderabad’s iconic bookstore 'Walden' shuts down its flagship store in Begumpet

V. Shobhha Prasad, MD of Walden, in Hyderabad on Monday. Photo: G. Ramakrishna

V. Shobhha Prasad, MD of Walden, in Hyderabad on Monday. Photo: G. Ramakrishna   | Photo Credit: G_RAMAKRISHNA

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A recap of the iconic bookstore, which shuts down its flagship store in Begumpet after 29 years

The walk down the road outside The Hindu office on Begumpet Road will never be the same again. The familiar signboard of Walden comes down today as operations shift from the Begumpet flagship store to the Banjara Hills and Gachibowli branches. For V Shobha Prasad and V Ram Prasad, who started Walden 29 years ago, this decision to shut shop was inevitable.

The 7,000-square foot bookstore, one of the first and biggest destinations for books in the city, where one could browse at leisure walking down the aisles, has long been struggling to find customers. The reasons are many, Shobha says, “It began with road widening, where we lost our parking area. Then the airport got shifted to Shamshabad and passengers who’d stop by to pick up books en route to the Begumpet airport no longer came here. There were too many bottlenecks of traffic for people to come here. The rise in online sales is the final nail in the coffin,” says Shobha wistfully.

“But it’ll be business as usual at our Banjara Hills and Gachibowli branches where there’s ample parking,” assures Ram Prasad.

Narendra Luther IAS(Retd) former chief secretary Government of Andhra Pradesh.
PHOTO: G. RAMAKRISHNA

Narendra Luther IAS(Retd) former chief secretary Government of Andhra Pradesh. PHOTO: G. RAMAKRISHNA   | Photo Credit: G_RAMAKRISHNA

Nearly three decades of association with Begumpet Walden is something Hyderabadis cherish. Author and historian Narender Luther has happy memories to share. “In 1990, when Walden opened, I was so excited to find a good modern and spacious bookshop in the ‘newer’ part of the city. I bought a couple of books I was looking for during the first visit. It was also a gesture of welcome.” As a writer, nothing gave him more joy than witnessing his books on display and being picked up by readers. “It was interesting to see someone picking up one of my books. Sometimes when I didn’t see some of my titles, I would ask the manager. He’d say they’d been sold out, but the new stock would be coming soon. I did not break my anonymity,” he smiles.

Family favourite

Chairman of the Asian Institute of Gastroenterology , D. Nageshwar Reddy
Photo: Nagara Gopal

Chairman of the Asian Institute of Gastroenterology , D. Nageshwar Reddy Photo: Nagara Gopal   | Photo Credit: NAGARA GOPAL

Visiting Walden was a Sunday evening outing for Chairman and Chief of Gastroenterology Asian Institute of Gastroenterology Dr D Nageshwar Reddy, his wife Dr Carol Ann Reddy and their daughter Sanjana in the 90s. Dr Carol recalls, “All three of us would be in different sections of the store browsing books and my daughter would say, ‘I finished reading the book, now you don’t have to buy’, laughs Dr Carol. However, their visits eventually stopped as people would stop Dr Reddy in the aisles to discuss their ailments. “After that, Ram Prasad would send across any new arrival when he thought that would interest my husband,” says Dr Carol, who’s an avid reader herself and confesses to reading the Harry Potter series while at her clinic. What does Dr Nageshwar Reddy read? “He’s not much into fiction, Da Vinci Code, is perhaps the only fiction he would have read. If there was a particular book we were looking for, Ram Prasad and Shobha always made sure to get that for us. They are such passionate book lovers,” says Dr Carol and adds, “Walden will remain special to me and my mother as well, as we bought all our Christmas cards and gifts here.”

Sharing the feeling, Narender Luther says, “People don’t buy books now; they buy mobiles and computers. The whole world is there. But a book is a book, it’s company in the bed, it’s reading we do the last thing before slipping into sleep, where do you get all that? I feel a friend has died and I wasn’t invited to the funeral.”

While the loss is grave, here’s hoping the newer stores of Walden will shore up memorable experiences as well.

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Printable version | Dec 7, 2019 5:08:37 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Hyderabad/walden-continues-its-business-at-banjara-hills-and-gachibowli-branches/article28758918.ece

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