Bhubaneswar: Old is gold. This famous adage does go well with old books too. Sold at old book bazaars here, they are as precious as gold for bibliophiles.
This capital city has some places like Giridurga market complex, vending zone near Satyanagar traffic post, CRP and old bus stand that are known as the treasure troves of old books. There are over 200 shops and kiosks which are dealing in old and used books, from academic texts to novels in different languages.
From morning to evening these book corners witness a good mix of college goers and parents who search for books containing some useful stuff, with little consideration for titles and authors.
“Most often we are searching for a book by a specific author. Though we get the book at some book counters, the price of the book drives us to go to the old book bazaar where we get the book containing the required stuff, of course sometimes by the sought after author and sometimes not,” said Deepak, a student.
Ramesh, a friend of Deepak, has more than one reason to buy these old and used books. “Buying old and used books have so many advantages. First of all, we, the students, belong to middle class families. So, we have to be careful in spending the monthly money provided by our parents. We can get these books at half rate. Second, sometimes we find the content descriptions in the old ones easier to follow. Third, the fact that it has passed through a first hand, sometimes second user as well, his/her underlines makes our job a little bit easier.”
Rakesh Kumar Sahoo of a city-based pharmacy institute observes, “While studying professional courses we have to buy a lot of books. These books are expensive. So buying second hand books goes a long way in saving a few bucks that we can use in some other way.”
These book shops are not only selling old and used books but also buying them. The passed out students find it difficult to get rid of these old books at the time of shifting to a different location.
At this time they bring their books to these old book shops, and in turn, they get maximum 40 percent of their books value, if they are of latest edition and in good condition.
However, these shop owners are not happy with the business they are doing at present. “Since the online book trading is gaining ground and becoming more popular among net users, we are not doing as much business as we used to do a couple years ago,” says Ashok Jena, a shop owner at Giridurga market complex.
He further adds that as the online dealers usually provide more discounts, even on new books, their customers are increasing, taking a toll on us.
The online trading not only hampers our selling. We are also not getting enough books to buy as earlier because the users now prefer some online sites like OLX that deal in purchasing old stuff, including books, he adds.
But according to Rakesh Ranjan Senapati, an M Pharm student, “there is a hell and heaven difference between online purchase of old or new books and purchasing them from a counter. When one goes to a counter he can flip through the pages and can find if the contents match one’s requirement. But in case of online buying, this is not possible.”
“However, if one buys used books online, one must be extra careful as some may be damaged inside. They should choose such sites that promise return of their books if they are found not in good condition, he observes.
Pradeep Pattanayak, OP
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