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Goodbye Crosswords

11:46 AM

There is always something I find disturbing when a bookstore closes down, and that one is even paining me even more.
The area in which I live has only ONE bookstore that sells brand new books…or shall I say HAD because I noticed last June end that the store seemed closed, and I just learned it actually completely shut down instead of relocating, the reason being that the owner of the building in which this bookstore was located decided to double the rent, which meant the store could not afford it anymore.

The store in question is Crosswords, it is part of a big chain, but to my knowledge that was the only one within a short driving distance, and that very store was already there in the area the last time I lived in the area in Mumbai in 2004…8 years ago they are shutting down. What’s left in the area now is one second hand crammed dusty bookstore and nothing else.
While as a grown up I don’t really mind second hand bookstores, the ones in India are anything but kid friendly, and that was the reason why I loved crossword so much, they have a very nicely done kid section in all their stores, it invites kids to come in and explore, pick up books and decide what they want, leaf through books and enjoy. Since moving back to this area, I admit I have been in that store more often for Ishita’s benefit than mine as we read more kiddie books than I get to read grown up books, it was so much fun to go through the shelves and find books at random there, and now this is gone…all gone. The nearest mall seem to have no bookstores so far, though I hope they will fix this flaw soon, as having 2 Planet M (CD and DVD stores) barely 3 kilometres away from one another but no book stores is another disturbing trend to me.

Sure Crossword is still on the net, so is Landmark, and there is Flipkart too…but call me an old bat if you wish, they are simply not the same and never will. Don’t get me wrong I order books online too, mostly for myself and to get a discount, but online stores will never have the appeal a real life store has. For once you can browse for hours on an online site and end up lost and confused so online really works best if you are looking for a specific book or author, not if you just now you want new reading material but have no idea what yet. In a bookstore, you get the element of surprise, you get to touch and discover books that would otherwise not catch your fancy, it could be the colour and texture of a cover, it’s artwork the title, the fact it’s suddenly put on display on the special’s table…I’m the kind of person that can roam in a bookstore for hours and never be bored of it, but my patience on any given book selling site never goes beyond 15 minutes no matter how well designed the site is, it’s not inviting people to get lost and stumble by chance upon a book. And for kids even less! My daughter is 3 years old and it’s oddly discomforting to see that she can already scroll through DH’s iPhone when at her age I didn’t know how to operate my parent’s stereo fully and wasn’t allowed to put vinyl records on the player by myself because the risk of scratching them was so big…so would I want my daughter to browse Flipkart to find kiddie books? For once she doesn’t yet make the connection between seeing the cover art on Flipkart and the fact it is a book that is on for offer. For her a book is bless it be still a thing you can touch, feel and leaf through.
this is something she can carry by the arm load at Crosswords trying to persuade me to buy them all, this is something that excites her, something that hold promises of beautiful pictures inside and possibly interactive content in the form of lift able flaps and touch and feel textures. Buying a book, means visiting the store, sitting on the bright cartoon rug and let the element of surprise take over. Where on Earth would I find this online? And there is no way even a second hand car garage sized crammed dusty shop can deliver the type of joy we had in that particular Crossword.
Now all we can buy to entertain ourselves in the area are DVD’s at Planet M…way to go on promoting literacy in children huh? Leave alone creativity…sigh!

4 comments

  1. For some reason 'modern bookstores' such as Crossword (with play areas, kid's sections, and some that even serve fancy coffee) don't seem to be catching on in India.
    I prefer REAL books also & refuse to buy a Kindle thing, well at some point I'll probably have to but oh well.
    Luckily here in Nepal one of the local 'departmental' stores has a small but remarkably interesting selection of contemporary & classic books to choose from for children & adults.
    (Although my in laws look at my purchasing books as a shameful waste of money)
    I am surprised at the lack of children's books in bookstores when we visit our home in Delhi though.

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  2. Yes the lack of Children's book is another topic I plan to blog about. It hit me in the face in Lucknow, we were for some reason in a bookstore and there was one floor for hindi books and one for English one, I kid you not the kid section on the hindi books floor was a only one little shelf, most of the books were for older kids and about 70% were mythological and religious books, with a few educative books, there were 2 board books for toddlers, both teaching the hindi alphabet with old fashionned images and that was it. We then went to the english books floor, the kid's section was 4 times the size of the hindi books section will all kind of books from religious, to Disney to fairy tales and educative.
    I have a strong feeling that in the Indian mindset books are still to educate kids rather than entertain them and make their imagination sprout.

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  3. I don't know about the AppStore in India but there are several dr Seuss Books available in the us AppStore. They are interactive to various skill levels. They can choose from three options. My little guy still needs to have it on auto play but I like that they highlight the words as they read them and they are quite the voice saver too. I'm sure with a three year old you have read many of her favorite books allowed to her do frequently that you could recite them from memory. I know it's nothing like holding a new book and flipping through the pages and smelling the ink and toner and that new paper smell that is sooo intoxicating but it'll do in a pinch.

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  4. I haven't checked that one yet, my daughter is getting addicted to the iphone though and I am trying to limit that because it reached a point that when DH is home in the evening while she is still awake she will want the iphone and nothing else.

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