Monday, 16 March 2015

Photo Essay: Books by Weight is back!

I could have browsed all night…

As the title suggests, this post is largely pictorial. The Books by Weight exhibition of Butterfly Books in South Mumbai, of which I wrote about in 2013, is back again. Millions of books—paperbacks and hardbacks
are on sale according to their weight. General fiction weighs at Rs.100 ($1.6) a kg, children’s, literature and reference books Rs.200 ($3) a kg, and books by premium authors are up for Rs.300 ($4.7) a kg.

Books by Weight, currently on inside the sprawling Sunderbhai Hall near Churchgate Station, is the brainchild of entrepreneurs, husband and wife Ajay and Madhavi Gupta, who personally  oversee the exhibition which opened on March 4 and will run through April 1.

The exhibition is a sight for sore eyes. A lover of books can spend an entire day browsing through the horizontal stacks. There are also open cartons filled with books specific to genres like science fiction and children’s literature, particularly Enid Blyton. This afternoon, I spent two hours at the exhibition and though I found many books that I’d have loved to buy, I couldn’t make up my mind. Finally, I bought four novels, one each by Don Pendleton, Carter Dickson, Donald E. Westlake, and Ed McBain, weighing less than 1 kg and costing a total of Rs.70 ($1.1). The books were in good condition.

The main categories of books on sale include, apart from fiction, biographies, sports, law and academia, children’s literature, science fiction, health, craft and cooking, travel, antiques, interiors, astrology, religion, war, history, wildlife, gardening, and photography.

I’ll be going back for more as the venue is less than a kilometre from my office, which doesn’t help my reading cause.


Where does it end?

A few popular authors.

Cartons of science fiction.

Another row, more books.

More famous authors and their books.

Hardbacks on parade.

Books, books everywhere...

© All photographs by Prashant C. Trikannad

28 comments:

  1. Replies
    1. Charles, it certainly felt like being in one. The children section with its assorted craft and activity books was in demand.

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  2. Ditto Charles - I think I would be trying to haul my own body-weight! BTW - what was your Westlake?

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    1. Col, I left behind quite a few McBains and Jack Higgins as I already have enough to read from both authors. The Westlake book is BROTHERS KEEPERS. It is supposed to be a hilarious novel. I have never read the author before.

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    2. Thanks, I haven't heard of that one before. I will look it up.

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    3. Col, you're welcome. You'll probably read and review it before I do. Since I have never read Westlake, I thought I'd read it next from my stock of physical books.

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  3. Definitely looks like a book lover's paradise!

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    1. Elizabeth, that it was. I could have spent a couple of days there, stepping out only for lunch and mid-afternoon tea.

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  4. There is a store in Evanston, IL that does exactly this every day they are open for business. They sell used books by the pound as if they were produce. And the idea is the more you buy the cheaper the price. But the bulk of the store is devoted to business books and children's books so I never went back. Plus, it was bizarrely organized and made my head spin trying to figure out how they shelved their limited fiction.

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    1. John, at Books by Weight one can buy more paperbacks for a kilo because they are lighter in weight. The books are placed genre-wise in neat horizontal rows, spine up, but finding a book within a particular genre is like looking for the proverbial needle in the haystack. You have to run your fingers through the titles and move up and down the aisle. It can be fun, actually.

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  5. The closest we come to this here is to buy a bag for a certain amount and fill it with books. Usually the last day of a book sale.

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    1. Patti, I'd love to buy a bag full of books for a fixed price. Maybe, I should suggest it to the owners of Books by Weight except that, here, it might not be financially viable.

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  6. I think I would need to load up on allergy pills, and devote a few hours to that enterprise.

    We have a used bookstore here, that will let you into their backroom a few times a year, and it's $5 per plastic bag that you fill up.

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    1. Ryan, it wasn't as dusty as I thought it'd be. Being Monday, there were fewer people around and there was plenty of room to browse. Sales usually pick up over the weekend. I like the idea of stepping into the backroom and browsing and buying books from the owner's hideout.

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  7. Prashant: Where do the books come from?

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    1. Bill, I should have answered your question in my post. Most of the books are shipped from the US and "dumped" in countries like India. I don't know if it helps reduce the huge inventories of books in the West, especially with the growing use of ebooks. Many of the hardbacks I browsed through had stamps of American bookstores and distributors as well as university library cardholders; in some cases, the word "Discarded" was prominently stamped on the first page of the books.

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  8. Sheer heaven Prashant - I reckon I'd got a bit nuts surrounded by so much bounty!

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    1. Absolutely, Sergio. I came across so many authors I'd never read and am unlikely to read in this life. There are far too many of them.

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  9. Oh my goodness, Prashant - I would have needed a wheel-barrow to cart home the books!! I love a great book sale. I'm amazed you only bought four. What discipline!! :)

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    1. Yvette, thank you! I was tempted to buy more than four books but my growing pile of unread paper books at home and in the office held me back.

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  10. Sounds like we are all a bunch of book gluttons here. Even though I need no more books in my house and have a big book sale to go to in September, I would still be in heaven (as Charles said) to be in that book store. I would not be able to limit myself like you did.

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    1. Tracy, I'm trying to read more and hoard less, if such a thing is, indeed, possible.

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  11. Wow that is amazing! Those picture have got all your readers going, we are all wishing we could go there.... what a great idea.

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    1. Moira, it'd be swell meeting all of you at the book exhibition. I can't imagine how many books we'd buy between ourselves.

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  12. This looks like the annual charity sale at the State Fairgrounds in February, but the are not sold by weight. On the last day, everything is half the marked price and a box of books may cost two or three dollars.

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    1. Oscar, a bag or box of discounted or half-priced books seems to be the norm in the West. The Books by Weight sale is unique to my city.

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  13. That looks superb. I'm very envious.
    Just out of curiosity, what were the McBain and Dickson titles you got?

    Colin

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    1. Hi Colin, many thanks. The McBain novel was GHOSTS and the Dickson book was THE CAVALIER'S CUP. I have promised Sergio I'd read and review my first Dickson book next month. THE Books by Weight exhibition is held in South Mumbai twice a year and I have been a regular since it was launched a few years ago.

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