Brick-and-mortar bookstores may be fighting for survival the world over, but not in Bengaluru. At least, not on Church Street. The city’s iconic Blossom Book House is set to open a second store by July end. But, this new 9,000 sq ft store, which will also sell second-hand books, will be just a few yards away from the first store.
This will make it the ninth well-known bookstore in the Church Street-M.G. Road area. Barely three months ago, Bookworm opened a massive store here. The new Blossom store will literally abut Bookworm.
‘Lack of space’
The intense competition between booksellers of Church Street is fuelling this phase of expansion, but no storeowner will openly admit that. Mayee Gowda of Blossom Book House said it’s not competition, but lack of space that is behind the expansion. “The new bookstore will be on the third floor of the building that now houses the Matteo Cafe, and will be one of the biggest in the area,” he said.
But, why not expand to other parts of Bengaluru? Is it only Church Street that is becoming synonymous with books? “Many people had started writing the epitaph for M.G. Road-Brigade Road as the weekend destination with the emergence of malls, and the increasing popularity of Indiranagar as the eat out hub in east Bengaluru. But, the sustainability of these multiple bookstores on Church Street, and the kind of weekend business here shows that its still the biggest weekend destination,” said Guruprasad D. Narayana of Akruthi Books in Rajajinagar. Over the last five years he’s been struggling to run his bookstore in north Bengaluru.
Krishna of Bookworm also believes that Church Street is the place where books sell. “It has been three months since I started the new store and I’m yet to break even. However, I am confident of doing good business and will survive even with new competition. What sustains our business is the weekends,” he said.
But, not everybody agrees.
Nitin Shah of Sapan Book House now boasts of a total eight stores across the city, including outlets in unexplored markets such as Bannerghatta Road, Nagawara among other areas like Sadashivanagar, Jayanagar, Indiranagar, and Koramangala. “We have a store on Residency Road. But, there are many unexplored markets,” he said, adding that all eight stores were doing brisk business. “Traffic is a big issue and a person from Bannerghatta Road cannot come to Church Street to buy books. We need to take books to these readers,” Mr. Shah reasoned.
While residents will agree, most booksellers are playing it safe and staying put on Church Street.