“I love reading books and that’s also one of the reasons why I ventured into the book business. I remember, during my childhood, I used to love the smell of the new books and I would be super excited to read the comics of Hindi and English. Back then, we used to get special editions of comics for children. And later, I was slowly introduced to novels by one of my friends. I always wanted to pursue my higher education in Hindi literature, but due to my family’s financial status, I had to discontinue my education midway. I used to help my father in his Kolhapuri chappal business until 2004 in the old city but later, because of the emergence of new ready-made shoe varieties in the market, there is a massive downfall in the demand and we had to shut our Kolhapur shoe business eventually.
Later, with the support of two of my close friends, I ventured into the Bookselling business in 2005. It was a profitable business earlier before digitisation took over and there were days where I had to restock the books within 3 days. Such was the demand for novels and nonfiction books back then. I remember selling the Harry Potter series to at least 5 customers a day. However, there has been a sharp decrease in my business especially since 2012. People these days are more fascinated by movies and smartphones and there is a huge drop in the number of youngsters stopping by. I am not even able to meet the cutoff margins and it’s a huge blow for the sidewalk book vendors like us. Thankfully, the number of elderly people has not gone down much though.
A lot of booksellers and customers agree that the availability of online platforms like google reads, kindle, audible, etc and even the Covid 19 pandemic has impacted the bookselling business drastically. Yes, I do agree with the fact that people could order them online but I believe shopping for books physically is a completely different feeling altogether. I certainly believe it’s also the responsibility of the parents to introduce the habit of book reading to their children and limit digital consumption just for their physical and emotional well being.”