|Written by Administrator|
|Monday, 16 July 2012 15:52|
If one talks of favourite bookshops in Dehradun, the bookworms of the town will in all probability mention Natraj Bookshop and The English Book Depot-- two of the oldest and most well known book shops in the Doon Valley.
To find out what makes these places so special , the Bizzy Bees at DehradunBuzz decided to worm through the history of these bookshops.
One of the most interesting things that cropped up during our visit was the fact that both these bookshops had their origins in Ferozepur. The English Book Depot was established in Ferozepur in 1923 and they shifted base to Dehradun in the 1950s. The Natraj Bookshop too has its origins in Ferozepur, where Lala Narain Das set up a book business after emigrating from Pakistan during the Partition in 1947. A few years later, they also relocated to Dehradun.
DehradunBuzz spoke to Mr. Upendra Arora, the grandson of Lala Narain Das and the current owner of the Natraj Bookshop and Mrs. Sneh Dutt of the English Book Depot, to gain some valuable personal insights. Sitting amidst orderly piles of books all around, we caught a glimpse of history.
Natraj has been a favourite of all literary minds who have visited the Doon Valley. Mr. Arora marks the visit of our former Prime Minister, Mrs. Indira Gandhi as a watershed mark in the history of the bookshop. Also the visits of Mr. Rajiv Gandhi and his children while they were studying in Doon are remembered fondly by him. The EBD (as the English Book Depot is known now in popular lingo), has also seen visits from the distinguished literary minds of the area.
Having been in the bookselling business for so long, both have seen certain changes in the reading habits of the readers over the years. Though both of them agree that the breed of younger writers has encouraged the younger generation to take up reading in a big way, they do point out that the older more “serious” readers are still into the classics. As Mrs. Sneh Dutt pointed out, “These short novels are good for initiation to the hobby of reading but on a deeper level, they do not really provide you much food for thought. It is really the good reading material that can enhance one’s reading experience”. Mr. Arora seconded that viewpoint, “The older classics contain the pure English which many youngsters are not comfortable with. They prefer a more of a hinglish approach to the Queen’s Language.”
As for the growing trend of e-books threatening their business niches, Mr. Arora says that at least in Dehradun the trend has not really caught on. The readers here are more of purists who prefer ‘proper’ books.
One thing that is heartening for them to see is that contrary to popular perception, youngsters are actually not drifting away from reading. A large portion of both these bookshops’ customer base is actually young people. And it’s not just the readers, but also the booksellers who are seeing the advent of a new guard. Ms. Divya Arora, a graduate of London School of Economics has also joined the family business at Natraj and is bringing in sweeping changes which are proving to be very successful. As if to confirm our optimism, as we are walking out of the doors of EBD, we see a boy in his late teens sit down with a new acquisition in the coffee shop, order an espresso and immerse himself in the world of his new best friend – a sight that proves that the tribe of the bookworms won’t be extinct for a long time to come.