15+ Bookstores Across India That Still Care About The Books They Sell
By: Ishani Debroy on Jun 26th, 2015
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Image credit: shareyourself.tumblr.com

While we all love the convenience of having books delivered to our doorstep, book lovers everywhere will agree that there is something special about bookstores. Other than the romanticised experience of the smell and the feel of books, bookstores offer a unique space for the local community of readers to meet. No wonder, then, that bookstores have often been (and continue to be) spaces for discussions and conversations, for the exchange of ideas and reviews, as well as other literary events like book launches, readings and workshops. For your literary love, we have compiled some of the legendary bookstores in India that are adored by the reading community.

Seagull Books, Kolkata
Image credit: Seagull Books FB

You'll feel the magic as soon as you walk into this store. This bookstore does more than sell books. Established in 1982, Seagull Books reflects Calcutta’s own tryst with the arts, by publishing books on visual arts, alternative cinema, theatre, performance studies, philosophy and culture. They also translate and sell fiction and non-fiction works from German, Italian, French and  Norwegian, as well as some interesting limited edition designer notebooks. That’s not all! You might just witness a music performance, a book reading or even a wonderful sculpture made by their artist. The interiors being tastefully selected and beautifully maintained  reflect the selection of books available here. Expect nothing short of a unique bookstore experience from Seagull!

Follow them here.

College Street, Kolkata
Image credit: Padhaaro

We’re breaking the rule a bit with this one, but we couldn’t possibly leave out an entire street that has been nicknamed the ‘Colony of Books’ (boi para). College street is a book lover’s paradise - with bookstores, small kiosks and even stacks of books adorning its walls. Not only is it a go-to place for students because of the huge variety of textbooks available all year round, it is also home to some of Calcutta’s oldest bookstores and biggest publishing houses which cater to readers of all sorts. What’s more? It is said to be the largest second-hand book market in the world, having books in all Indian languages, as well as literary works from around the globe which are out of print elsewhere.

Find it on the map here.

People Tree, Delhi
Image credit: The Minstrel Stories

Another bookstore that is definitely more than meets the eye. People Tree is a home to the undiscovered and the unconventional that stands out in the globally standardised book industry of today. They also deal in handcrafted jewellery, inspired clothing and of course, unique books, magazines, movies and music. In the truest People Tree spirit, they strive to add books that are suggested by customers and are always looking out to discover new literature worth sharing. A delight for art lovers of all kinds, you wouldn’t want to give this one a miss.

For more information go here.

New Book Land, Delhi

What interested us (and several passersby) was its peculiar shape and the highly popular, well-stocked, coffee-coloured book rack that is displayed outside. A chain of the Midland Book Shop, the first branch being opened in 1988, it stands at Janpath Market, next to a big peepal tree. The owner is known to be quite polite and the store usually offers twenty percent discount on all books.

Contact them at: +91-11-23326468

Full Circle Bookstore, Delhi
Image credit: Full Circle Bookstore

This quirky bookstore has an impressive history - it hails from Hind Pocket Books, a publishing house which published the first paperbacks in Hindi, way back in 1959. Currently publishing in English and several other Indian languages, Full Circle seems to carry the same enthusiasm and love for literature as its historic publishing house. Book lovers are enthralled by the little notes stuck to the shelves that have book recommendations and reading suggestions. There is something about buying books from places who love them as much as we do! Also, did we mention they have a lovely cafe for you to savour that book you're reading? You can thank us later!

For more information go here.

Kitab Khana, Mumbai
Image credit: Kitab Khana

This bookstore has it all. Well-stocked collections of bestsellers and classics, spacious interiors and an active calendar of book events. Walk in to Kitab Khana and don’t be surprised if you find yourself in the middle of a book launch, a storytelling session or a week-long children’s reading event. We love a bookstore that keeps itself updated, and this one certainly lives up to that reputation.

Follow them here.

Kahani Tree, Mumbai
Image credit: Kahani Tree FB

The love for reading, they say, is best started early. Kahani Tree strives to introduce kids to reading in the most innovative ways. Supporting various independent publishers in India, you’re sure to find unconventional books that allow children to gain access to Indian sensibilities and contexts, which is often lacking in the mainstream literature for children. They also have a range of bilingual and regional language books, tailored for the modern Indian child. If you aren’t sold already, Kahani Tree also hosts various storytelling sessions and author interactions, thus bringing the world of literature even closer to the young reader. Legendary in the making, we say!

Follow them here.

Smoker’s Corner Book Stall, Mumbai

Intrigued by the name, are you? You won't be disappointed by the story - a book lover who bought a tobacco store from its British owners and slowly turned it into a bookstall. Although a ‘stall’ in form, the books are clearly looked after and neatly arranged, in order to make it easy and pleasurable for one to run through the titles. Despite the evident enthusiasm of the owner, customers love that he gives them space while they browse and only steps in for recommendations when asked. He has also been known to gift his customers with rare books if they are looking for them. A true friend to every bibliophile, for sure.

Contact him at: 022 2261 4060

Motilal Banarsidass
Image credit: Motilal wikipedia

Although we've tried to stick to single independent stores, this one deserves a mention. Motilal Banarsidass have been the leading authority on Sanskrit and Indology literature in the country since 1903. If not for their collection, this store is a must-visit because of its historical significance. The original store in Lahore, which was started with just Rs. 27, was burned down in a riot during Partition. It was then relocated to Varanasi, and finally to Delhi, where it now exists, along with branches in Chennai, Bangalore, Mumbai, Patna, Kolkata, Pune and Varanasi. The store’s owner has been awarded the Padma Shri for community service through publishing - the first award of its kind.

Go here for more information.

Cambridge Book Depot, Mussorie
Image credit: nidhisrivastava.in

This bookstore is not only a local favourite, it has provided many generations of them with good literature. The sheer volume of books and the range that is available is enough to make you keep coming back for more, other than the fact that Ruskin Bond (a Mussorie local) pops in every weekend for book signings. Don't miss the visitors' book, which has signatures from the likes of William Dalrymple, Gulzar, Shakuntala Devi and Atal Bihari Vajpayee. 

Contact them at: (135) 2632224/ 09837258801 

 

Blossoms, Bangalore
Image credit: Damitr's Web Blog

Located in the heart of the city, this second-hand bookstore is frequented by bibliophiles from all corners of Bangalore. Famed for selling used titles at very reasonable prices, Blossoms also stocks up on new releases and best-selling titles. They also allow customers to sell their old books for store credit. What’s incredible is that this three-storied store, that is lined with books of all genres and topics imaginable, was started by a man with a dream in a 100-square-foot space with his own collection of books. Today, Bangaloreans think of Blossoms as a second home, and are often heard saying some hilarious things - visit Overheard at Blossoms to read them.

For more information go here.

Contact them at: 080-25320400, 080-25559733

Atta Galatta, Bangalore
Image credit: Atta Galatta FB

Step into the Atta Galatta bookstore, and you’ll know its run by book lovers who possess an earnest passion for what they do. Here, you’ll find well selected books written in various Indian languages such as Hindi, Tamil, Kannada, Telegu and Malayalam, as well as works in English by Indian authors. Keen on building a community of serious readers, the store frequently hosts various events like book launches, book readings, workshops and seminars for all age groups. As if this wasn’t enough, this perfect little book lover’s haven also bakes its own bread and serves up some delicious coffee that is recommended by many. Reading can really work up the appetite, and we're grateful!

Keep up with them here.

Goobe’s, Bangalore
Image credit: Goobe's Book Republic FB

If you’ve spent some time in Bangalore, you’ve probably overheard the Kannada word ‘Goobe’, either referring to an owl or to call someone a fool. This little bookstore blends together the elements of the wise old owl and the silly fool. It is the perfect chilled-out spot for book lovers who can use it as a library, or browse through titles or just use the discounted rates to buy a barrel-ful of literature. Goobe’s is another store run by and for book lovers, and will make you feel right at home. It doesn't stop there, Goobe's is starting a wonderful initiative that brings books to the urban poor, who otherwise do not have the resources to have access to them. Falling in love? We thought so.

Follow them here.

Giggles Bookshop, Chennai
Image credit: Saddaq.com

This bookshop with a sign that reads ‘Giggles: The Biggest Little Bookshop’ has earned only good reviews from people who've visited it. Book lovers are immediately impressed by the owner, Nalini Chettur, who started the little store in 1974 with just Rs.1000. The shop, occupying just 100 square feet, has been stocked to its full capacity - mostly with books on India and those written by Indians. Despite its small size, you'll find yourself lost in the literary sea while being guided by Nalini, who always has recommendations for you. The Lonely Planet has named it a 'must-see spot' in Chennai, and we don’t need to ask why.

Contact them at 044 2852 0123

Tara Books, Chennai
Image credit: Tara Books FB

A deeply passionate, hands-on approach to publishing is what Tara Books represents to those who engage with their work. They handpick and publish books for children, teens and adults (both fiction and non-fiction), that are perfect for the discerning reader who likes to be challenged and impacted by literary work. In a delightful union of aesthetics and socio-political literature, Tara has also been printing a range of ‘Handmade Books’, which have silk-screen printed covers (often designed by the author him/herself) that add a new texture and depth to the titles. Fascinated? Us too!

For more information, go here.

Idiom Booksellers, Fort Kochi
Image credit: Happy feet

With a name like Idiom, you know it's the perfect destination for a literary geek like yourself. Not only will you have three rooms filled with books to explore for as long as you like, you'll also enjoy the guidance and recommendations of the owner who is known to be very helpful and knowledgeable. What's more, backpackers, travellers and fast readers love selling their books here and finding new ones to read. Did we mention they sell used and new titles at reasonable prices? Head now to this local favourite and see for yourself. 

Contact them at: +91 484 221 7075

Ram Advani Bookshop, Lucknow
Image credit: Uppercrustindia.com

Another iconic historical gem is Ram Advani Bookshop. Almost as old as independent India itself, this bookshop has witnessed and withstood political turbulence, uprisings, as well as literary developments in one of the country’s oldest cities, Lucknow. The owner, Ram Advani, is well known and sought after by many readers, historians, travellers and scholars, proving yet again that bookstore owners are often more than just that. You can see him chatting animatedly with them, giving book recommendations and overseeing the discussions that eventually ensue. The store is now an established landmark and has influenced the literary collections of many – just the stuff legends are made of.

Contact them at: 0522 262 3511

Ladakh Bookshop/Bookworm, Ladakh
Image credit: ixigo.com

If you’re a traveller, a trekker or even a local of Ladakh who is in serious need of some good ol’ literature, this place comes as the answer. Ladakh Bookshop, though humble in size, is known for being well-stocked with books on spiritiuality, Buddhism, locally relevant issues, tourist guides as well as classic works of fiction and non-fiction. It also sells indispensable Ladakh trekking maps that many trekkers swear by. Keep up the good work, we say!

Contact them at: +(91)-1982-250792

Singbal’s Book House, Goa

This striking blue building at the corner of the street in Panaji (opposite the Panaji Church) is hard to miss. Inside, you’ll find a vast collection of both national and international magazines and newspapers. They also have books Goa, tourism and travel.

Contact them here: 0832 242 5747

Literati Bookshop and Cafe, Goa
Image credit: Literati Goa

‘Literati’ is a wonderful bookshop that keeps the reading culture of Goa alive. Come here for the cozy home-turned-bookstore and stay for the delightful Italian-style garden cafe. The owners are clearly book lovers and are highly responsive to customers, which gives the store an added personal touch. This place will not just make you want to stay forever as you browse through their collection, they also host interesting activities such as film screenings, book launches and book clubs that meet over potluck meals. They really do get us!

Follow them here.

 

These bookstores aren't just about collecting and archiving stories, they end up making stories of their own. Which is your favourite bookstore in India, and why? Tell us in the comments!

Rachna Books, Gangtok
Image credit: Rachna Books FB

A warm cozy spot in the midst of the Himalayas, Rachna's is a welcome haven for all art lovers with a great collection of books to browse through. They also treat their readers to various events such as musical performances, workshops, book readings and film club screenings to name a few. What we love is their local consciousness- Rachna's serves as a platform for writers and artists from the Himalayas, the North East and surrounding areas. This should definitely be next on your travel calender.

For more information, go here.

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Ishani Debroy
Ishani is the quiet awkward type, and then every once in a while she likes to surprise herself with something new. Proudly an Internet person, she spends way too much time reading, watching silly videos and laughing at cleverly used gifs; often compromising on sleep and other non-essentials. She'd like to know what her Patronus would be, where ...   Read more
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