Books & Beyond

Chandigarh is definitely growing in terms of bookstores! A new one came to the city in the form of Books & Beyond, and a short while ago the Oxford Bookstore debuted in the city.
I had seen cartons of books at the DLF City Centre in IT Park, when Jaspreet, Shaan and I had gone to see a movie a few weeks ago, and thought that I would check out the store when it opened.
Imagine how pleasantly surprised I was when Suparn Vaidik, Senior Manager, Merchandising and his colleague Shriniwas, came home to invite me to inaugurate that very store on August 12.
This is the sixth outlet of the book chain run by Spencer Retail, the retail arm of the RPG group. It is a very swank place that stocks 35,000 books, as well as magazines, toys, stationery, gift items, music and accessories.
K Dasaratharaman, president (Specialty Retail), conducted me around and it was delightful to interact with him. We discussed books, translations, literature in Indian languages, as well as the reading tastes of various segments of society, and how they vary at various locations. His colleague, Moitreyee’s love of books and her involvement with literature also sparked off an interesting discussion.
Book & Beyond and Music World stores are run by the same company, and are often sharing the same space now, which makes for an interesting juxtaposition that is being increasingly adopted worldwide. As I walked around the store, I also came across some familiar faces, wearing new uniforms.
The venerable English Book Store and Capital Book Depot, located at two opposite ends of Sector 17, are among the oldest bookstores in the city, dating back to practically the time when it was developed. Rajiv and Ajay respectively have their own loyal clientele and occupy an important space in the mindscape of book-reading city dwellers.
Some years ago, Pankaj Singh, a young book lover, opened The Browser, which claims to be India’s first integrated library and bookstore. It also has an online presence . You can buy, borrow or browse through books and DVDs — in English, Hindi and Punjabi at the store located in Sector 9, where more often than not you also run into the charming Deep, Pankaj’s wife.
Punjab Book Centre has long been serving the city under the stewardship of Ajit Pal. This store, with a decidedly leftist leaning, has a great stock of popular books in English and an extensive collection of Punjabi books.
The Panjab University campus has Lyall Book Depot and Atma Ram & Sons and there are many other bookstores as well—book reading culture in Chandigarh is alive and truly kicking.

Caption for the photograph given above. Lighting the lamp at Books & Beyond, shortly after the inauguration. At the extreme left of the picture is K Dasaratharaman, President (Specialty Retail), RPG group.

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  1. Moitreyee says:

    Can’t agree more with Mr. Roopinder Singh’s observation about Chandigarh & books! My first visit the city, I was so pleasently surprised to meet at least 8 very passionate book lovers in the 9 days I spent here! They were academics, IAS officers & journalists young & old. Strengthened my belief that the present generation does have the patience to read!
    And visitors to the store on day 1 included young couples with requests of specific books to gift their beloved, senior citizens browsing for their favourite read to happily spend their hard earned leisure. What a pleasure it was to see a host of young IT professionals & bankers from across the road and the swanky office next door troop in during lunch hour to pick up handful of books. Fiction and evergreen classics appeared to be the popular choice.
    And the icing on the cake is this piece of conversation over telephone I overheard (I assure you I wasn’t eves-dropping – the conversationist in his excitement was quite oblivious of the decibel level of his voice!!
    “Excuse me just today please. I am in this book store, you must visit. And there are so many books – so difficult to choose. It smells so good.”

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