Another famous bookstore, that's still going strong thankfully, is Strand. Strand is a lovely place tucked away in the Fort area of South Mumbai, the most historic and delightful part of that city. My grandfather used to buy books from Strand. The founder, Mr Shanbhag, used to regularly send a pile of new publications to my grandfather's home in suburban Mumbai, so that he could take his time, pick and choose what he wished to purchase, and return the rest. Many of these books are still there in my grandparents' home, with delightful prices such as Rs 3 on them. The best part of Strand is the famous Strand book fair that occurs every year at Sunderbai Hall, near Churchgate station in Mumbai. This is a book sale on a massive scale, and will make any booklover go berserk with joy and madness. There are long tables, along the length of this large hall, lined with books, and offering hefty discounts. Here you will see people purchasing 50+ books, being carried away by helpers in boxes. It is the Mecca for booklovers. The Strand Book Fair takes place in other cities too such as Ahmedabad. These bookstores were more than just places where books were sold. They were an integral part of our lives and culture.
Nowadays, most people know Crossword as the only bookstore, or perhaps Landmark as well. Crossword is a great place, with a good choice of books, but these old bookstores had a different charm. In them, one could often find unusual books, and there was always the element of surprise, of chancing upon some book, hidden between others, that you never knew existed. Modern bookstores are safe, organised, and clinical. And of course, now most of us visit that bookstore in the cloud. I'm talking about Flipkart, the place where it is all available, and with happy discounts too, sometimes. The bookstore is changing and adapting fast to the virtual, otherwise, it too, may go extinct. Books surrounded you on shelves, and now they simply fill your computer screen. While I'm a big fan of Flipkart, I do hope more Manney's do not go out of business, and the Strands of the world always exist.
The author is co-founder and Director, Content Design at Steta