Acquaintance With Letters

Preserving books and the spirit of reading in dimly lit corners

Posted in Uncategorized by Sagarika on May 10, 2011

Few months back, my father told me about a bookstore in a surprising place for a books store such as that one. As I found my way in a dimly lit alley where I could only see shops of bulky law books I found the bookstore. It was already closed for the day. But as my brother and I were expressing our disappointment of having found the bookstore and not been able to explore it, just when we were making our way back, the sales person who too was ready to hop on his bicycle to call it a day inquired if we were interested to go inside the bookstore, we said yes and with unexpected excitement that he showed, he unlocked the doors of a bookstore that I am certain will be edged in my memory for a long, long time. The things I was absolutely oblivious to were what I think about at several times now.

It is an independent bookstore and goes by the name Rupayana. Not only is it a place where books are treated with the kind of respect they deserve but also a place immensely satisfying for a reader and a book-lover. I say satisfying because they are well-kept and maintained in a way that it is hard to keep one from appreciating it.After couple of visits to that bookstore I started to browse similar independent bookstores around the world that are still operating or once did on the internet. And to my delight I found several of the kind.

The independent bookstores offer writers and readers place, atmosphere and almost always the companionship and help of the bookstore staff. These bookstores have an air which is unique to them which has a sense of history to it and a story to tell. Because such bookstores are not there just to sell books, they are there to offer you a place where you can read and celebrate books. That’s where the integral difference between Commercial and Independent-bookstores-with-a-heart lies, Independent bookstores celebrate books and do not compromise respect for books at any cost.

Like all good things, these Independent bookstores too have to face hurdles and obstacles due to which several have been forced to close down. But nevertheless they exist and I believe almost everywhere, we just need to search and explore because there are always enough people to admire things like these and have the courage and strength to see that they exist. While I was reading about Independent bookstores around the world a lot of them have been forced to close down because of financial reasons but as evidence that people care about such things I scrolled through hundreds of articles in the protest of such closures.

Whilst these bookstores manage survival, I never fail to recognise the efforts that are put in to make and keep up such a haven for book lovers. I will find it hard to find even more to believe that a person with utter disregard for books can create such a place. Only when a person is truly in love with books and knows the value attached to reading can she or he create it in the first place. Like many people who crave for a books stacked together to be read and a collection of books that is discussed and highly thought of, some of them have the resources and courage to open a bookstore, one with a soul.

Opening and maintaining a bookstore, any bookstore for that matter requires funds and lots of them. Therefore not many Independent bookstores have risen to worldwide fame.  But who needs fame and money when you have satisfaction of preserving books in the best of their spirits and encouraging reading as a blissful habit? But there are inevitable situations which arise without worldwide fame and funds which certainly are hard hitting and real and uproot the very existence of Independent bookstores causing them to close down. One such bookstore among the hundreds that have had similar fate I read about was based in San Francisco called ‘Clean Well-Lighted Place for Books’. The name forced a smile on my face followed by sadness that a bookstore with such a name had to be closed down.

Such harsh fate that these Independent bookstores have met and the realisation of their importance forced me to ponder on them. Even though we have found replacements and substitutes for almost everything, we must not fail to realise the importance that such Independent bookstores have on us and the impact they have on our personalities. After all we are human beings not robots, we do not need books alone to extract knowledge, we need the inspiration to read them and be in an environment where we can create a haven in our minds to respect and acknowledge them. And that is what these Independent bookstores around the world offer, they inspire us to read for pleasure and work and while we do that, they silently keep the spirit of books alive.

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