Wednesday, 25 September 2013

Books by weight

On August 18, I wrote about our visit to a book exhibition on India’s 66th Independence Day. Out of hundreds and thousands of books on sale, I bought one, Me Tanner, You Jane, an Evan Tanner paperback by Lawrence Block. I have yet to read it.

Last Sunday, we went to another book exhibition at the same venue, a large auditorium at Churchgate in the central business district of South Mumbai.

Butterfly Books, the organiser this time, was selling over a million books in various categories including world war and history. There were separate sections on cookery, architecture and interiors, children and young adult, management, sports and leisure, travel, health, reference, classics and general fiction, and more.

The fiction section consisted of all kinds of books, paperbacks and hardbacks, but it lacked structure. It was a complete mismatch of authors and their books. You had Joanna Trollope rubbing shoulders with John Grisham and Patricia Cornwell hobnobbing with Frederick Forsyth. Missing in action were several popular and widely-read authors like Agatha Christie, P.G. Wodehouse, Louis L’Amour, Enid Blyton, Stephen King, and Roald Dahl.

What was unusual about this sale was that books were being sold by weight rather than at discounts. For instance, children’s books and Mills & Boon were sold at Rs.120 a kg while fiction was sold at Rs.120-200 a kg, the maximum rate. We picked up five paperbacks weighing 0.8 kg for Rs.120 (a little over $2) that included The Arsenic Labyrinth by noted British crime writer Martin Edwards, Persuasion by Jane Austen, Icon by Frederick Forsyth, and two M&B.

I am waiting to read The Arsenic Labyrinth as I liked the first Martin Edwards book I read, All the Lonely People, and reviewed here. The tagline on the back cover piques your interest. It says, ‘You’d never believe it to look at me now, but once upon a time I killed a man.’

The Butterfly Books exhibition is on until October 10. I should go back and take some pictures and pick up some more books.

If you want to read about a fascinating book exhibition at the other end of the world, assuming you're living in South Asia, 
head over to TracyK’s engaging blog Bitter Tea and Mystery and read about the Planned Parenthood Book Sale, 2013.

11 comments:

  1. books by weight. Sounds quite weird. I've seen book sales over here where at the end of the sale they sell them by the box or, in one case, by the stacked inch. Always kind of strange to see it.

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    1. Charles, more than 50 per cent of the books were hardbacks, some really large volumes, and just one or two of these would weigh a kg or more which, I think, isn't much of a bargain. The advantage of books by weight would be in paperbacks.

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  2. Book by weight....I'd have to go for 200 pages or less short crime and mystery stuff.
    I'm hopeful of trying Martin Edwards next year, if I cross paths with the first book - All The Lonely People

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    1. Col, looking for crime and mystery books was like looking for a needle in the haystack. You need to know about books, fiction at least, before putting up a huge sale like this one. There were books everywhere but the sale lacked direction.

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    2. And Col, I'd like to know what you think of Martin Edwards' work. I enjoyed his first book in the Harry Devlin series.

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  3. Never had books priced by the weight - that would probably mean more Ed McBain and less James Clavell for me!

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    1. Sergio, this was the first "books by weight" sale I went to and I thought it wasn't a bad idea since people were actually buying loads of books. I don't know if they think you get more books this way than buying them individually and adding it up. I didn't spot any Ed McBains or JDMs or Lawrence Blocks. It wasn't that kind of a sale.

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  4. Prashant, thanks for mentioning my post about the sale. Books by weight sounds like a lot of fun, but it would drive me crazy to have them all mixed together. Although you could find some things serendipitously.

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    1. Tracy, it was my pleasure. Books by weight would have been more fun if they'd some really good books. I believe stocks of books are piling up in the West and Indian book distributors are importing large shipments from America and Britain which are then sold here at hefty discounts. I'll admit I've been lucky with books, particularly the odd one that I'm unlikely to find if I looked for it.

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  5. Books kilo ke bhaav. I think it happens only in India. :)

    I wish such an event is organised in Delhi too. The paperbacks would be a real steal.

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    1. Neer, when you put it that way, I guess it does. I went back recently and picked up a couple of westerns though I didn't find many authors I was looking for. The organisers continue to add thousands of books. The exhibition is open until October 10.

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