dust cover is a little frayed and dog-eared. But where else can you find a handsome
hardbound edition of 'The God Of Small Things ' for as little as Rs. 75?
It's a peculiar Pune phenomenon. A cozy bookshop that sells second-hand books at a third
of the cover price. With a little luck, you can catch mint-conditioned foreign novels
within Rs. 100. Of course, it takes patience and hunting around through stacks of musty
books on your knees but as any book lover will attest, isn't that half the fun?
When Cable TV offers 28 channels of entertainment for Rs. 125/- why would anyone pay Rs.
875/- for Ted Hughes' collection of poems - The Birthday Letters?
In such a bleak scenario, these stores make it possible for a book lover to enjoy a good
read without paying a King's ransom for it. The catch is that, with zero publicity, even
the most avid book lovers don't know of the existence of such places. Presented below are
three of Pune's best-kept secrets.
Above Gajanam Clinic, Near Prem's Restaurant, Koregaon Park.
Sophia is a cozy second-hand bookshop tucked away in a side street of neo-hippy Koregaon
Park area, brightly festooned with maroon-and-technicolour sanyasins. These sanyasins in
fact, constitute around seventy five percent of her business of buying and selling
second-hand books in English, German and Japanese. When they arrive form all the world,
they drop in to check out what's new, and before they depart they sell her all excess book
luggage and perhaps buy one for the road to Goa. This unusual clientele contributes to her
eclectic 1500 strong collection which includes many spiritual books, novels, and therapy
Her prices are generally around half the cover price and if you're a student (or young
enough to pretend one) then sometimes she further discount her pencil marked prices. If
you are an avid reader and absolutely broke, you can even return the books later and claim
fifty percent of the prices you paid. Now in its fourth year, Sophia is still a sanyasin
secret but slowly it is being discovered by book lovers looking for new books at good
<CHAPTER & VERSE
' A unique Bookshop ' proclaims the signboard of the plush bookstore at Gera Plaza on the
Boat Club Road.
Chapter & Verses constitute Arvind Gordhandas's private collection of books and a
smattering of new books on certain subjects. "I don't keeps books on computers,
engineering or technical subjects," he explains "because I don't know the ABC of
these subjects. Each of these books is a book I have personally loved. On subjects like
literature, poetry, music, philosophy and travel you would be hard pressed to find such an
exhaustive collection in any book shop even in Mumbai. Being a book lover himself, he has
an extensive knowledge on many subjects and even if you don't end up buying, you can spend
a pleasant afternoon intelligently discussing life, literature or travel, sitting on the
cane sofa in his carpeted, air condition bookshop.
Started in mid- 1995, today Chapter & Verse boasts a collection of around 6000 unusual
books approximately half of which are new books. Amongst his timeless collection are old
issues of magazines like The New York Times, Esquire, Times Literary Supplement and art
Like his books, Gordhandas too, is a charming gentleman of a bygone era and he scorns at
bookshops, which have recently diversified to sell music, cards, toys, and computer
software. Like a pure vegetarian restaurant, Chapter & Verse is a pure bookshop.
TANNA BOOK DEPOT &
Stall No.3, Hong Kong Lane, Near Deccan Talkies
Trust me on this one: you'll pass the Tanna book Depot & Library twice before you
believe you've located it. It's so tiny that two people standing shoulder to shoulder will
constitute a traffic jam and six people at one time means a 'house full'. You will find it
hard to believe this upright matchbox can contain 10 to 15 thousand novels - one of Pune's
"Collection pe log aate hain," says Mahendra Tanna, the 'Eight
Gujrati owner, who took over the business from his father. Since then, the forty
something bachelor has had 'no rest, no nothing '. From morning 10:30 to evening 8:00
except Mondays he attends to customers at the shop. On Mondays he trips to Mumbai to
replenish his bookstore from the old stock of Mumbai libraries. What is incredible is that
although he speaks no English, he sources novels and authors with computerised efficiency
for his customers. On occasions, he has located a rare book even after two years of
His prices ranges from Rs. 15 (comics) to Rs. 150 (Gone With The Wind) and he stocks only
fiction. The bookshop also doubles as a lending library charging Rs. 2 per day. As curator
of the shop since 1963, he has also seen the reading taste changing over the years. "
pehle," he says, " it was James Hadley Chase and Erle Stanley Gardner,
but aajkal it is Sidney Sheldon, Jeffery Archer and John Grisham" who do brisk
business with his customers.