Monday, March 7

I can't hold out

It's funny how things can change in the blink of an eye. Or 5 years, give or take a few blinks.

If you'd given me a Rs. 1000 coupon for Crossword back then, I'd have been thrilled. Sure, I've never been the biggest fan of the place because they never have the book I want. In a bizarre twist, Popular in Deccan always does. It even became an oddly confirming ritual. Too lazy to bike to Deccan, I'd try the small Aundh branch of Crossword, then the gargantuan SB Road one, and the assistants at both would shake their heads in infuriating apology. Then I'd walk into Popular and get the book in 5 minutes flat. Sometimes, even less. The SB Road branch of Crossword has shut, the Aundh one has become huge but Popular is err, still sort of popular.

So, you'll understand the lack of joy when gifted a Crossword coupon sometime last year. Since it expires in April, I went by the store today with a blank list. I'd buy whatever was even remotely interesting and fit in my budget. The place was having a sale too, so that was another incentive. After an hour of roaming the bookshelves in increasing despair, I gave up. Honestly, it's all mostly dreadful tat. Which, for a blind book-lover like me, is stupefying. I have never understood the book arrangement system in Crossword either. With acute focus, I'll scan the non-fiction section only to be jarred by a whole section of Agatha Christie mysteries. Amongst the serious tomes in 'Business/MBA', I'll run into Hegarty (and Ogilvy) on Advertising, neither of which fits in there. Perhaps I'm prejudiced thanks to the beauty of libraries and their filing system. I've worked in my school library and spent many an hour at BCL and Stern Library at UAB (what a lovely, lovely place), where the books were perfectly arranged. To go from that to the fish-marketish rot that's Crossword is, well...

They didn't have whatever I asked for as usual.   

Another, more serious issue is pricing. I found the complete 'Feluda' series by Ray for Rs. 1000 and was tempted to get it and end my misery. On surreptitiously looking it up on Amazon, I found them for Rs. 600. That's quite a serious difference. Now, I understand the costs that a brick-and-mortar store must bear but I can't see how they'll survive. Against the might of online giants, bookstores both great and small can't win in the long run. Like the beloved Manney's, the rest may be preparing for the long goodnight. While I'd weep a bitter tear over Popular, Crossword's eventual demise won't even dampen my eye, frankly.

The most drastic change for me has been the Kindle. It's just too damn convenient. Yes, I understand that the books on it don't really 'exist'; were the product to die, I'd own nothing versus say, all the books that I have bought, which are mine. But it doesn't seem to matter for now.

I'll always love books. I'll always think libraries are important and there should be more excellent, accessible ones (when I think of FC's library or Jaykar Library, my heart bleeds at the wasted potential). But, I'll need a damn strong reason to walk into any bookstore barring Popular (which is still awesome).

Of course, this still doesn't solve the problem of what I am to do with the Crossword coupon.

Song for the moment: Told you for the last time - Eric Clapton

4 comments:

Ashish Kulkarni said...

You could drop it off at my place this Saturday. I'll give you ginger chai in return

G said...

You have a fancy view of your tea, I'll say that much.

bhumika said...

though brief, i loved the bit on libraries. brings back the romance of books in a way that not many even wish to think of now.

G said...

True. Sad that so many of them get such a raw deal. Still nothing like the hush of a good library though.