What does a small-time bookseller do in a place which claims to be the World Book Fair, where all the reputed publishers from all over the world, including Amazon, with the new Kindle paperwhite, have opened stalls and are selling their books at a discounted price? He tries to clear off his stock of old books, of course, giving them away for Rs 50 or Rs 100.
More power to them. Thanks to these unknown booksellers I spent two happy days at the New Delhi World Book Fair in Pragati Maidan choosing and picking a number of books, dirt cheap, books I would be able to afford otherwise, books like David Mitchell’s The Thousand Autumn’s of Jacob De Zoet and Diana Eck’s India: A Sacred Geography.
The arrival of ebooks, unlike what the naysayers are saying, hasn’t killed the market of printed books. It has just made them expensive. Nowadays, the lowest price of a new book is Rs 500. I am talking about Indian editions. If they are foreign editions, it would be much more expensive.
On both the days I was at the book fair, I spent an inordinate amount of time at the Penguin/Random House stall, looking at the shelf containing the important graphic novels. For the last two years or so, I have been quite fascinated with graphic novel. I got them via internet and read them on my computer screen.
But there is nothing like holding a comic book in your hand, lie down on the bed and admire the lines. I had my eyes on two particular tomes, the Sandman Omnibus I and II. Then I look at the price. It’s 9999, for god’s sake. Even if they give me 20% discount, it would amount to Rs 8000, for each volume. This is something I cannot really afford.
Instead, I spend Rs 2000 and got myself 20 books, and I am so happy. Someday perhaps I will possess my own Sandman, someday perhaps.