Old is not gold for these booksellers
Those who believe in the adage ‘Old is gold’ continue to search for rare books at old bookstalls in the heart of the city even as about 50 old booksellers find no glitter in the business since the onset of everything going online.
Those who believe in the adage ‘Old is gold’ continue to search for rare books at old bookstalls in the heart of the city even as about 50 old booksellers find no glitter in the business since the onset of everything going online. Though sale of old books is considerably high on Sunday compared to weekdays, the booksellers blame the internet for the decline in sales by 30 to 50 percent.
Alankar Centre and Lenin Centre are famous for sale of the old books for over 30 years now. While some have their own stalls here, others stock the books in godowns for sale on every Sunday. The shop owners purchase books from different sources including readers who sell books and magazines after finishing the reading. The books include literature, children’s books, novels, dictionaries, academic etc.
The booksellers purchase books by paying 10 to 50 percent of the actual price. Rambabu (35), who has been associated with book sale from his childhood, said that they would sell books for 40 to 70 percent of the actual cost depending on the demand and condition of the book. There was a steady fall in the business as people were more dependent on internet for books which suits their interest.
Those who did not find the old books online would approach them for the books. The Sunday booksellers suffered as other businessmen prefer to open on Sundays. There were about 30 places where they would settle on pavement in front of closed shops earlier. Now, with the big businesses being open also on Sundays, the booksellers were finding it difficult to get some place on the pavement to spread their book stocks. Only a few booksellers were able to find place on pavement, he lamented.
The booksellers store books in safe places till the next week once they close sales on Sunday. They segregate damaged books from the good ones and dispose the damaged lot at the disposable or what we locally call the ‘raddi’ market. Hussain said he was getting a daily wage of Rs 400. Just like google search engine that provides information needed within seconds, he comes out with a few old or new books asked by customers (readers) in a jiffy. He was optimistic about the business in spite of internet’s presence.
Kanaka Reddy, president of the old books merchants’ association, said the online shock was difficult to cope with. It wiped out almost 50 percent of sales, he said. Old booksellers who have stalls at Lenin Centre and Alankar Centre are keeping new books along with them to stay in the business.
They are selling question banks, private textbooks, notebooks and others to eke out a living. “People these days prefer buying books online and searching for everything on the internet to download the books they need. However, those who cannot find a book online are only trying for that particular book at these stalls,” said one of the sellers.