For bibliophiles everywhere, nothing beats the joy and delight that comes from the written word. Books, old or new, seem to really light up the soul and fill your world with imagination. But, filling up your bookshelf takes a heavy toll on your bank account as this love for reading book comes at quite a steep price. Well, it’s time to stop staring wistfully at your empty bookshelf because I have the perfect solution for you. Here are some of the best places in India where you can buy second-hand books at dirt cheap prices!
College Street, Kolkata
It is impossible to talk about second-hand bookstores in India and not mention the renowned College street. This place is one of the largest second-hand selling markets in India and has a surreal charm to it. The historic street is the second-largest second-hand book market in the world, as well as the largest one in India. The mile-long avenue is dotted with hundreds of bookstores, big and small, and is also home to India’s biggest publishing houses. The bookstores range from standard brick-and-mortar affairs to small makeshift stalls made from bamboo, canvas, or sheets of metal. Each stall and store has its own history to speak of. It is said that you can find any book from any part of the world among these shops. From used novels to brand new academic books, from literary translations to books for competitive exams, everything can be found within this one street. When perusing the stores on College Street, be sure to browse carefully: you might find a first edition Dickens nestled among the latest John Grisham thrillers.
Blossoms Book House, Bengaluru
If there’s one place that booklovers in Bengaluru swear by, it’s Blossoms. Keeping the art of reading alive in Bengaluru, this second hand bookshop is any bibliophile’s dream come true. With hundreds of shelves decked up with thousands of books, Blossoms on Church Street has rapidly grown over the years, since its inception in 2001. For most Bengaloreans, a visit to Blossom has now become a Sunday ritual of sorts. The floor is divided by genre, and has secondhand editions of almost every title you can imagine—from bestseller books to obscure titles you found off the internet, and a standalone novel as well as the 7th book in a 20-part series. To the left, an entire section is solely segregated and dedicated to graphic novels, and many enthusiasts sit down there leaning against the shelves and dip into the books for hours before making a monetary commitment. From classic comics to travelogues to books on gardening, one can find more 200,000 books here from across varied genres.
Piccadilly Bookstore, Kolkata
Next time you’re visiting Sudder Street or New Market, cut down on the clothes and food shopping and visit this store which is said to be a paradise for bookworms. They are one of the oldest dealers of both secondhand and new books on Free School Street. You can find novels, short stories, biographies to even comics in this store. The gate of the shop proudly showcases the entire Tintin and Asterix collection which is sold at half the price, and the books look brand new. If you are looking for a trip to a different time, the old bookstore and yellowing pages will give you just that.
Rare Books, Chennai
Amidst the pile of yellowing books with the rustic smell of bygone era sits 82-year-old S A Govindaraju, whose passion for books runs through his veins. His late father had advised him to keep a collection of valuable books and there began his passion for books. This retired teacher’s collection soon became Rare Books, a tiny bookstore in Chennai’s R A Puram that is not easy to find for the simple reason that there no flashy board welcoming its visitors. And when you do find it, you will see a tiny, dimly-lit garage filled with books with blue ‘sales’ stickers and a small board that reads ‘Rare Books’ on the door. What is most unique is his collection of vintage print ads dating back to 1950s.
If solving crossword puzzles is your thing, you can pick from close to 500 puzzles at this shop. Love vintage newspaper and magazine cartoons? Choose from more than a thousand panels created by the likes of India’s favourite RK Laxman, World War II political cartoonist David Low and British satirist Ronald Searle. If you’re a geography geek, swing by to browse through more than a thousand editions of the National Geographic magazine at the store. Yes, there’s a little something for everyone at Rare Books.
Only open on Sundays, the Daryaganj book market is the best place to go for book shopping. With second-hand books starting at as low as INR 40, you will find almost every title here. From coffee table books to rare comics and even boxed sets of Shakespeare and Sherlock Holmes, there is something for every reader here. The new and old books will be lined up on the pavements quite neatly so that you can easily spot your favourites. If you hunt around, you might find beautiful copies of some famous reads, first editions and even signed copies. Since the entire book market is stretch over 1 km, be prepared to walk and carry a bag to keep your books. Also, bring your bargaining game forward to ensure that you get the books at the best price.
The New and Secondhand Bookshop, Mumbai
Founded in 1905 by Vishram’s grandfather Jamalbhai Ratansey, this corner store started out selling raddi paper, moving on to include school texts and exercise books before finally introducing fiction and nonfiction around the Second World Wr. Probably the first and oldest second hand book store in Mumbai, this book-lover’s paradise stands tall with its popular collection of local and international books till date. It is also common to spot foreigners here looking for books on Indian art and culture. Books on children’s stories, law, religion and philosophy are on the ground floor, while agriculture, Indian and international cinema, feminism, modern warfare and rare, out-of-print books are on the first floor. With 2 floors of cramped up shelves, you can be assured that your favorite book can be found here.
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