A chain book store of reputed brand closed shutters near my home. This was one of the most famous book/ leisure store which opened more than 70 stores across india. It closed very fast in the west, east and northern region. But was doing good business in the south till a few years ago. Infact, more popular in Bangalore and Chennai that whenever I visited these places for vacation, I shopped for books and took my children for all those vacation workshops .
There was a time(10 years back) when i was waiting for this store to open in my city and when its first store opened in my city, I traveled 14 kms to buy books, boardgames and other multimedia like CDs, casettes, stationary. Some 7 years back, this shop opened its branch closer home and we were regulars there. But in the past one year, i realized i had'nt visited this store or any of those book stores.
These were not just book stores but were more than that. They conducted many weekend workshops of famous people like Rob of MAD fame, story telling sessions of kathalaya, reading and other interactive sessions, so this book store and the other swanky chain of book/leisure stores in the malls were our regular haunts when my children were young. Distance was never a matter when it came to book stores, we have traveled long distances to attend the children workshops, reading sessions at the various book shops. They were good exposure to my children on the creative as well as learning fronts. It made them socially interactive and they were good learning grounds for their life skills too as they made them bolder and confident to meet and approach people.
It was on a November 14th, on children’ day there was a creative workshop, story session, magic show and a lego toy workshop for children in one of the book store inside a lifestyle store. My husband then was mostly on official tours, so I took my children to the place and they thoroughly enjoyed the session and finally when it was time to return. The last show was announced, the fancy dress contest. I was unaware of the contest so they had no chance of participating. My daughter who was a very outgoing child and open to participating in such contest said “Ma, I want to participate too”. I told her she was in a pant and top and this was no fancy dress and moved towards the coffee shop which was on the same floor to get them something to eat. They went back to watching the show.
The food order took pretty long and I was waiting for them at the coffee table, my daughter came back to me and told, “But I could have been a newsreader. What matters is attitude ma, not just fancy dress. You should have allowed me to go” It surprised me to hear that from a 7 year old. Such was the influence of these bookstores on many children. The creative contests most of these shops threw were instant topics/ themes and my children have won many drawing , creative writing contests at not just here, even in Chennai and Bangalore.
The malls which we went to are still there, but the book shop floors of all these malls have disappeared or shrunk. Similarly many libraries and stand alone book stores have also closed shutters.
They were doing good business till a couple of years ago. Then what brought the curtains down ?
Is it the reading interest that is on wane or is it the online stores and ebooks?
If these are the reasons, then sadly I am one of the contributor , guilty of not reading books , purchasing online and reading on a flickering screen.