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PeAcE WiTh GuNs

Monday, June 19, 2006

Second Hand Books

A weird coincidence this. I read the invisible man (finished yesterday) and wrote a post on it immediately. A comment on that made me mention second hand books. Now I realize how much of a nostalgia it is to be reading a second hand book. I am currently reading "The Plymouth Adventure" by Ernest Gebler. That book was published in 1950 and the copy that I have in my hands was printed in 1952. 54 years hence, the book is still safe and in readable condition.

I remember my earliest days of reading novels in school library. All the Enid Blytons and the Hardy boys. I read so many books that I still hold the all time record for most books read in school and its been 8 years since I left school. Reading used to be a passion so intense that I'd come home, throw my bags and go into the bedroom and read. I read while eating, while watching TV and I made it a point to finish the book that very day. We got 2 books every week from the school library. I read more books by going to the library everyday in the Diwali vacations and being the most obedient guy in the library, the librarian gave me the books that were off the muster too. Those were the days.

So, I was mentioning second hand books. While in school, I also read a abridged versions of some popular classics and then I borrowed other classics from a friend once in a while and read those. My friend told me that his brother bought these books second hand from some place in Pune city and I've scourged all over the lanes in the city to find dedicated second hand book shops but I havent been able to locate anything particularly similar to that description. So, I've been to every raddiwala in my area, to every old looking book-shop in Appa Balwant Cowk (ABC, as its popularly called) and roadside scrap vendors looking for second hand novels. I've succeeded in getting some great books for as low as Rs.10 or 20 and there was a time long ago when I befriended a raddiwala and had got a few books for Rs. 3 or 4. Sadly, those days dont exist anymore and I cant find any novels with raddiwaalas these days and all the second hand book shops in Pune charge as much as a new pirated copy.

Well, this post was meant to be short, just a copy paste of some info I found interesting about the subject but well...its something close to my heart and so I ramble on.

Here is the info:
I came across an article in the Indian Express today about a little town called Hay-On-Wye in UK, close to London. Here is the description on a site:

Hay-on-Wye, located by the River Wye in stunning countryside on the English / Welsh border, is the world centre of the second-hand book, rare book, antiquarian book and out of print book trade with some 4 million plus books in 39 specialist bookshops. Hay is also the home of the world famous Hay Literary Festival, held annually in May and June, attended by such literary giants as Norman Mailer, Edna O'Brian, Tom Wolfe, Patricia Cornwell, Bill Bryson, Lady Antonia Fraser and many, many others. During these two weeks everyone seems to be a writer, critic, book dealer, or book fan.

  • Try this google search : here
  • Excellent article on second hand books with some really nice hideouts to get those in verious cities like Chennai, Bangalore, Mumbai, Gurgaon etc. I am sure you will be VERY interested in this article. Its also really well written : here
  • Another great article, this time in The Deccan Herald : here
  • Article in the Hindu about sourcing of second books in India : here
  • A list of second hand booksellers in the UK: here
  • Book sellers in the town of Hay-on-wye : here
  • A really good search engine on the official Hay-on-wye website. They've got a HUGE database which you can conveniently search : here
  • Our very own Indian site for second hand books : here
  • Another very good Indian site : here

Finishing with a poem by John Arlott that I found on one of these articles :

A Second-hand Bookshop
The sunlight filters through the panes
Of book-shop windows, pockmarked grey
By years of grimy city rains,
And falls in mild, dust-laden ray
Across the stock, in shelf and stack,
Of this old bookshop-man who brought,
To a shabby shop in a cul-de-sac,
Three hundred years of print and thought.
Like a cloak hangs the bookshop smell,
Soothing, unique and reminding:
The book-collector knows its spell,
Subtle hints of books and binding
In the fine, black bookshop dust
Paper, printer's-ink and leather,
Binder's-glue and paper-rust
And time, all mixed together.
`Blake's Poems, Sir-ah, yes, I know,
Bohn did it in the old black binding,
In '83.' Then shuffles slow
To scan his shelves, intent on finding
This book of songs he has not heard,
With that deaf searcher's hopeful frown
Who knows the nightingale a bird
With Feathers grey and reddish-brown.

-PeAcE

--WiTh

---GuNS


41 Comments:

  • Hey!
    Love the poem and the whole subject in general! I love second hand books too..the place where i live has an annual book fest once a year and I go and get so many bargains! This year i went late and they were trying to get rid of all the second hand books so they said 'Grab a box and fill it up and you can have it for $5!' It was seriously awesome. i now have this huge boxes of books in my room from this year and previous years passed. I love the classics the best and they're always best when they've been pre owned! My mum has bought me five copies of Huckleberry Finn because she knows i like Mark Twain and yet i keep all five copies cause i like the fact that i own them! I find it amazing that some books can inspire so many different people! I love Bibles. Bibles are great when they are old. I find some with notes in the margins and it's interesting to see other people's insights and recollections when it comes to certain scriptures!
    -Amy
    P.S. I love Enid Blyton too! I remember i read "A Book of Brownies" when I was 7 and I faithfully read "The Magic Faraway Tree" every year until i hit high school!

    By Blogger Amy, at 11:04 am  

  • Amy : Hey, thanks for the comment. I thought you must have forgotten about my blog.

    Its great to see another second hand book enthusiast. Sadly, we dont have such fairs in India. A second hand book fair is a really practical thing to do coz we all have books rotting in out attics which we dont read but someone else might want to.

    5 pairs of Huck Finn?? LOL, thats amazing. How many copies of Tom Sawyer do you have. Those two books are related in some way, aren't they? I've read both but forgotten the link.

    I got a copy of Huck Finn for my sister from the streets of Bombay a few months ago. In fact, I got about a dozen classics that day. I only stopped myself from buying more because my wallet was empty with only a bus ticket's worth of money remaining !!

    Where did you say you live? IF I ever come to your country, maybe I can put up in your house (or your garage, I dont mind) and read up all the collection that you have !!

    Do keep reading (and writing, of course).

    -PeAcE
    --WiTh
    ---GuNs

    P.S.:Whats the latest book you read (from the classics genre).

    By Blogger GuNs, at 1:19 pm  

  • Hi Guns,
    The Book may be second hand but the knowledge you get from those books are not 'second hand'. Nice Blog with neatly arrenged details. Keep writing more such blogs often.

    ummm...I remeber during my childhood days I always bought chandamama and Flash Gordon comics mostly second hand books.

    _prax

    By Blogger Prashanth CM, at 4:08 pm  

  • last second hand book i read in the classics genre was ' The scarlet letter'. I guess theres a movie based on the book starring Demi Moore..I have to check it out. I am allergic to second hand books and end up sneezing incessantly!

    By Blogger Shradha, at 4:28 pm  

  • Prashanth :Thanks man. I have a fetish for keeping things looking neat everywhere. I'm sure there is always room for inprovement though. About the knowledge thing, you are spot on. Of all the vocabulary that I've built, novels have been major contributors. I dont remember buying even a single new novel before I started earning. I did buy one or two from discount sales though. OH FORGOT ABOUT THAT. Theres a place opposite Modern Cafe called the Institute Of Engineers in Pune and there were year-round book exhibitions and sales which I NEVER missed while passing that area. Havent seen an exhibition there in recent times but I do hope those exhibitions still happen.

    Shradz :I guess you have allergy to dust. I know its caused by microscopic dust mites. I though love the smell of old moth-eaten books. he he, its again a fetish you can say. AS in the poem here, these old bookshops have that peculiar smell about them which is enchanting. Have you ever noticed how things always seem to be really really calm in a bookstore?? I'm not talking about the modern swanky bookstores where people are URGED to keep quiet. I am talking about the old run-down ones. Its dead quiet in those places and you suddenly feel at peace in a second hand book store.

    -PeAcE
    --WiTh
    ---GuNs

    By Blogger GuNs, at 6:23 pm  

  • Lovely post! And very informative too.

    Second hand books can be amazing at times! Even i generally end up reading second hand books (for the prices of course) and come across some amazing comments by readers in the margins, other nots (once even a loveletter ;)).

    By Blogger Manasi, at 6:19 am  

  • ur a cool book worm hai na? :) good on ya!

    I used to be a book maggot too but then I discovered blogs :)

    Keshi.

    By Blogger Keshi, at 6:52 am  

  • Yes, 5 Huckleberry Finns...it's very sad. I have two Tom Sawyers, but one is in a two book compilation with Huckleberry Finn. I tell my mum every time she buys me one that I have it, but she never seems to stop! She just sees the name "Mark Twain" and buys it for me! Tom Sawyer is Huckleberry Finn's best friend and the two books kind of compliment each other...only Huck Finn is much better :) Your welcome to come to Canberra and read my books any day, I won't mind! The latest book i've read was 1984 by George Orwell. It's really good, have you read it? I think if you like H.G. Wells, you'll probably like George Orwell. It's really interesting and about what life would be like in 1984...of course, we've past it but i think it's a very good social commentary!
    -Amy

    By Blogger Amy, at 12:26 am  

  • Manasi : A love letter would be interesting. I've somehow bought books which never had much commentary except the ocassional "Happy birthday to ..." or something like that indicating that the book was a gift. Shradz wrote about finding a note in her book once. That was a really nice post. Do check that out sometime.

    Keshi :Bookworm illa. LOL, I play a lot of sports so I officially dont qualify as a bookworm. I love reading old books though. As I described in my last post, I just read Invisible Man after a long long time. Feels great to be back reading again. I havent been able to get myself to read since a pretty long time now. So, now I read books AND I blog. Cool eh?

    Amy :Canberra !! "Do you come from the land down under"...[:-P] Awesome place that I hear. Would LOVE to visit someday for sure. You can read my collection if you ever come to India yourself. Maybe I can go read Huck Finn and Tom Sawyer again. An unabridged version !!

    I had once read an essay called "A Hanging" by George Orwell. It was tremendously written.

    -PeAcE
    --WiTh
    ---GuNs

    By Blogger GuNs, at 9:27 am  

  • Wow!!! I luuuved that poem..

    When i open and old book I havent read in ages, that smell comes flowing out.. that intoxicating old paper smell.. that sets the mood to drown in the lives of the characters in the book..

    I have recently rediscovered ny passion for reading..

    :)

    ..Me

    By Blogger Rose, at 12:29 pm  

  • You [:-P] :Hey thanks for the comment. I liked that poem too. Especially the part about the dust on the shelves and I've seen many bookstores like that. The dust, the aroma, the yellowed pages...aah, pure nostalgia.

    I am in the same category as you. I restarted writing after being inspired by Shradha and I restarted reading after being inspired by her [:-P] lookalike in my office.

    Keep dropping in. Have you read the Invisible Man? Thats the last book I read but that was a new copy I bought from Crosswords. I've written a post about it just a day earlier.

    -PeAcE
    --WiTh
    ---GuNs

    By Blogger GuNs, at 4:11 pm  

  • Ah, one of my favourite topics, and nice post! I heard about Hay on wye and it has been my dream to visit it ever since we moved to the UK last year. But the urgency reduced because now I work as a volunteer in a charity second hand book shop myself. You can read about it here :http://walkamusing.blogspot.com/2006/05/agony-and-ecstasy.html
    But surely one of these days we will visit the place.

    By Blogger Anu, at 11:02 pm  

  • **books and blogs

    definitely a hot combination ;-)

    Keshi.

    By Blogger Keshi, at 6:06 am  

  • Anu :One word. WOW. Thats the most exciting profession EVER. IS it something you do as a full time job or part time? Does it pay you enough to "make-a-living" ?? Where exactly is this shop located? Next time you come to India, drop me a line. I will give you a huge list of books you can get for me [:-P]...I'll pay, of course.

    Keshi :He he, thanks. You do the same, don't you? In fact, I am just coming from visiting your blog and MY GOD...175 comments !! I bet even Shahrukh Khan wouldn't get as many comments if he blogged.

    -PeAcE
    --WiTh
    ---GuNs

    By Blogger GuNs, at 6:48 am  

  • hi guns,

    thanks for visiting my blog. If I quote another poet or author, i ensure that i point it out quite clearly that it is not my work...needless to say anything else not marked out like that are most definitely works of my imagination :) checked out your blogspot...its pretty nice!

    By Blogger Aps, at 11:07 pm  

  • Aps :Wel written *clap clap*. Kudos. I really liked it. Looking forward to more such writeups from you soon.

    -PeAcE
    --WiTh
    ---GuNs

    By Blogger GuNs, at 9:29 am  

  • I luv the lines:-

    "The sunlight filters through the panes
    Of book-shop windows, pockmarked grey
    By years of grimy city rains,
    And falls in mild, dust-laden ray"

    &

    "Like a cloak hangs the bookshop smell,
    Soothing, unique and reminding"

    Gues wat!!! I stole this poem from you.. and hv posted in my other blog figmentsofimagnation.blogspot.com..

    ;))))

    ..Me

    By Blogger Rose, at 8:21 am  

  • Rose :Thanks for 'stealing'. LOL, its a really good piece of poetry and the more exposure it gets, the better. Thanks even more for putting my name on your post coz there isnt any contribution of mine in this poem except coming across it on the internet and posting it here.

    You keep writing...

    -PeAcE
    --WiTh
    ---GuNs

    By Blogger GuNs, at 10:52 am  

  • Hay-on-Wye hmm.. Thanks for informing me about this place. I'll surely visit it soon, perhaps after my football fever subsides hehe.. I'm not too big on reading. Havnt been in a long time now. But this post kinda made me nostalgic too and I started remembering the stuff I used to read and so on.
    Perhaps picking up those second hand books would revive that interest in me again :)

    Keep posting!
    jedi

    By Anonymous jedi, at 2:57 pm  

  • Jedi :Hey there...Thanks for dropping by. Do try and find out when the Hay fair is held. Visit during that time.

    If the books there are cheaper than what you get here at Flora Fountain in Mumbai, you'll have to get a suitcase full of books for me. [:-D]Mooh maangi raqm milegi (of course, mooh se utni hi raqm nikalni chaahiye jitni chukaayi ho) !!

    Tell me about the trip. Heck, blog about it.

    -PeAcE
    --WiTh
    ---GuNs

    By Blogger GuNs, at 6:31 pm  

  • my all time favt in college was "Wuthering Heights".. and i've been wanting to read 'The Devil wears Prada' too.. well, mayb a seecond hand copy will also do ;-)

    By Blogger kandykane, at 8:17 am  

  • Kandy : WH - Emily Bronte !! I've come across that book almost EVERY TIME I've rn through a stack of classics in various places. What is it about? Maybe I can pick that up too.

    Thanks for the comment, btw...who referred you to my blog?

    -PeAcE
    --WiTh
    ---GuNs

    By Blogger GuNs, at 12:03 pm  

  • I came, I saw and I left a comment...

    Good to see u here dude... And ofcourse wonderfull blog... Check out mine too.. (I havent written so many like you :p)

    http://realityfigments.blogspot.com

    .oO(Venkat)Oo.

    By Blogger Venkat, at 8:35 am  

  • guess what i still have a book i got as a prize when i was in kindergarten.... :)

    By Blogger alice, at 2:32 pm  

  • Venkat :Thanks a lot man. Do visit often. I will try to put up useful/entertaining content all the time. I may not succeed each time but kindly ignore the intermittent crap that I might post. [:-P]It will help keep variety !

    Alice :Kindergarten !! Aah..how long ago was that?? Around 15 years...or maybe 16?? [:-D]LOL, Do I get a chocolate for saying that?

    -PeAcE
    --WTh
    ---GuNs

    By Blogger GuNs, at 3:35 pm  

  • And Guns, you know me as bbvenkatesh in mouthshut.com... Guess I should have said that first place..

    .oO(Venkat)Oo.

    By Blogger Venkat, at 7:09 am  

  • Venkat :Sorry BB, brother !! I didnt recognize your pic. I am elated to see that you have started writing again. One by one, all my friends on Mouthshut seem to be re-gathering in one place...Blogspot ! Theres Shradz, Karan, Suyog, You, Nirwa and a lot of others from Mouthshut. The one person from my friends list misisng is the elusive diskonnekt. I'm sure hes writing a blog somewhere too.

    I'll be looking forward to your posts eagerly man.

    By Blogger GuNs, at 7:55 am  

  • My post is up Guns. I found your post intriguing. Books not only enhance our mental capabilites but connect us to one another as well. There is a whole lot in regard to what books are about. Im sure you know what I mean. Nice post.

    By Blogger ScarS, at 9:02 am  

  • i shall check that place out...any shopping list u've got for me???

    By Blogger alice, at 10:19 am  

  • HI guns..thanx for your comment on my the my blog that I had forgotten about. Anyways, I ve been reading your blog, and the first i read was the about whats closest to my heart...books books and more books. you did take me down memory lane and i could certainly see myself tagging after mum at Mumbai then every year before vacations to second hand stores to grab my pie of the enid blytons, nancydrews and agatha christies.

    Back then, I used to get totally immersed in the adventures of the five findouters, the faraway tree, the wishing chair, all the goblins and pixies and fairies, and ofcourse all those boarding school tales.

    Now that we are all 'grown up' non fiction is what has caught my fancy. been trying to complete 'India Unbound' by Gurcharan Das for the past few weeks now. Its an amazing book and gives amazing insights into India. Read that one..


    Your blog did evoke that passion and excitement again in reading reading and reading, but alas!, where is the time??????/

    I guess, i gotta run as usual..

    Take care and keep the words flowing.

    Richa

    By Blogger Richa, at 4:27 pm  

  • Scars :Already read, already commented !! Keep writing man. You've got amazing style.

    Alice :[:-D]I could have a long list of books I want but how will you give them to me? [:-(] Do you plan to visit Mumbai anytime?

    In any case, you check out that place and do tell me what are the rates they generally sell the books at. I might be interested in asking some colleague/friend to get some books sometime.

    Richa :Hey thanks a ton for that comment. Its the longest comment I ever got and I LOVE long comments coz I write a lot of them myself.

    I totally agree with nostalgia and second hand books. I've spent my entire childhood amongst books. Even I read all the Enid Blytons with the Secret Seven, Famous Five, Five Find-outers, Secret series, Mystery series, Adventure series....All of them. I mean, all which we had in our library. I also read the entire collection of Hardy Boys that we had.

    Like you graduated onto non-fiction, I graduated on to classics.

    Good to see you blogging again and PLEASE do that more often. I will surely come and check your blog from time to time.

    Adios !

    -PeAcE
    --WiTh
    ---GuNs

    By Blogger GuNs, at 10:31 am  

  • hey so u frm Pune eh? cool! I did my MBA thr:) n yeah, second hand books r much more than just a read, especially if those are ur father's :)

    By Anonymous soulitary reaper, at 3:57 pm  

  • Reaper :Didnt have the chance to read my father's books. He never read English novels, I guess. All I have is a few chemistry books that he himself had got second hand from someone else when he was in college. We found those inside a dust ridden trunk under the bed in our little house in my native place. God knows how many years it hadn't been opened. I still have those 2 books with me though I see no use for them. I somehow dont feel like giving them away even though they are nothing but scrap lying around in our house now.

    -PeAcE
    --WiTh
    ---GuNs

    P.S. : You written on your blog yet?

    By Blogger GuNs, at 6:18 pm  

  • yeah... I know how it feels. I've kept my father's logarithm buk too!!! even wen I've always stayed at least a kilometer's distance from maths!!! Nostalgia of times you have lived only thru his eyes...sigh!!!

    By Anonymous soulitary reaper, at 7:20 pm  

  • *I read while eating, while watching TV*
    Whoa!! now thats challenging.. Okay .. while eating even I do it sometimes but while watching TV.. i can neva do it even if i try to.. lol...

    By Blogger Apy, at 3:16 am  

  • Reaper : Yeah man. You're right. He shows me his old photo in the album posing with his cricket team in junior college. He lived in a small town by the beach and I can only imagine how it would have been back in those times in those places. I rue the fact that till today, I havent been able to play for my school/college/company in any sport. I am so much into sports since I was a little kid but I never seriously thought about playing professionally.

    Times change. That ground by the beach is still there. I played there when I went there a number of years ago.

    Apy :LOL, I've often done all three things at the same time !! It used to be a necessity coz all day I was at school and I never missed a day of playing cricket in my friend's lawn. We played every single day and if it rained badly, we played in his verandah !! So I had to utilize the remaining little time for watching TV, doing homework (rarely), reading novels and eating. I'm sure you can do it with a little practice too !

    -PeAcE
    --WiTh
    ---GuNs

    By Blogger GuNs, at 7:04 am  

  • ayye, your comments and counter comments are longer than your posts, you confuse my intellect!

    By Blogger Zii, at 12:53 pm  

  • Zii :Ha ha, maafi zii ! I'll kep this short. Keep writing and keep checking.

    -PeAcE
    --wiTh
    ---GuNs

    By Blogger GuNs, at 2:29 pm  

  • Great respect for you man for being such an avid reader. Made me remember my binge-reading days in school when (exactly like yours) 2 books were issued every week.

    Sadly now shuttling between job and uni, it takes me awfully long to complete one flipping fiction(there's nothing like completing a book in one sitting and once that link is broken, unless you pick it up on consecutive day, your interest just whooshes away) and that's why last year I started watching movies for quicker entertainment. Book reading is quite a commitment time-wise.

    Still, thanks for the link and yea, now that summer vacations are here I might as well use those links and addresses (though it is very hard to go get some new books to read when the old ones are screaming to be read on the bookshelf).

    Borrowing from the library is the closest I have come to 2nd hand books but your post is so persuasive I wanna give this 2nd-hand book underworld near London a try!

    Cheers!

    Karan.

    By Anonymous Karan, at 10:29 pm  

  • Karan :Thanks for the comment man.

    I am doing the exact same thing. I cant finish a O Henry book of short stories since ages now. I've delegated it to the cupboard and started with "The Plymouth Adventure".

    But even that, I couldnt finish and so I bought "Invisible Man" and I completed it. It was like a return to old days and Invisible Man did rekindle the fire, I must say.

    Now, I am reading "The Plymouth Adventure" everyday in the bus and though the going is slow, I havent put it down. I've got a lot of pending books too. Gotta read them soon.

    I've also started watching a lot of movies on VCD/DVD and I watch them almost every night from 12:00 to 2:00 or so. Latest : Shawshank Redemption, Gods Must Be Crazy 1 & 2.

    If you read all those articles, I am sure you will be inspired enough. One of these articles mentions how real book lovers (like you and me) always buy more books than they read and the fact that its nothing wrong, just a love for books !!

    PLEASE do that trip as soon as you get time. Tell me what rates they sell the books at. If they are really cheaper than what we get here in India, I might want to ask people to bring some for me. Amy here says she got a box full of books for $5. Now, thats what I call a STEAL !

    -PeAcE
    --WiTh
    ---GuNs

    By Blogger GuNs, at 7:34 am  

  • Some more links I found for buying used books online:
    1) http://www.dogearsetc.com/
    2) http://www.bookmandi.com/

    By Blogger GuNs, at 4:41 pm  

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