As part of my post-graduate diploma in journalism from Bhavan’s College of Communication and Management, I am required to submit a study paper on any topic of my choice. One would think it is easy to choose a topic when you have that kind of an option, but the reality is otherwise. There are many things close to you and you end up feeling as if you’re cheating on one by selecting the other. It took me ten days to finalize my topic and I ended up choosing the very first thing that had come to my mind: The Bookstores of Hyderabad.
Let me begin by a short story: One fine day last year, I headed out to my favourite bookstore Landmark (the Somajiguda branch). I wanted to buy The Silmarillion, by J. R. R. Tolkien. However, it surprised me that one of the largest bookstores in the city did not have the book. Surprisingly dejected by Landmark, I crossed the street and went to Walden. I did not have any hopes of finding the book there and of course, they proved me right. Anyway, my search for The Silmarillion took me to all the bookstores (all branches) – Crossword, Odyssey, Akshara, A. A. Hussain & Co., and The Best Book Center. Much to my surprise, every bookstore failed me.
I am a crazy reader and buyer of books. In the past three years, I have frequented the bookstores of Hyderabad almost every month. It is with dismay that I see their quality going down. Therefore, I took this topic including case studies on Landmark, Akshara and The Best Book Center. My idea is to report the present status of these bookstores. In particular, my focus is on three objectives-
1. The book collection
2. The staff
3. The reading environment
My preparations for the study included preparing a timetable, collecting news reports of the last five years on the topic, browsing for any books about Hyderabad bookstores (there are none), preparing the interview questions for the bookstore owners, preparing interview questions for customers and readers, and a questionnaire for the study.
I also went in the search for passionate readers, collectors and buyers of books. This involved an extensive search over the internet for Hyderabad readers and bloggers pertaining to bookstores, and I must say that the Google search engines proved very fruitful. Goodreads also came in handy; bringing out these readers. I found about five such people, contacted them and scheduled interviews and meets.
Why is it that the bookstores of Hyderabad remain behind? Why don’t authors prefer to hold book events at our bookstores? In this capitalist and consumerist society, have we forgotten the pleasures and importance of good bookstores? Or, do we not care? Are we heading towards the end of bookstores? Does the Hyderabad society not respect books and bookstores? Watch this space as I attempt to find answers to these questions.