Welcome to my first ever book haul!
I have enjoyed several afternoons book-hunting at Blossoms, a cozy bookstore nestled in the lush corners of Bangalore’s Church Street. While the place is regularly infested with bookworms, nothing could have prepared me for the madness and mayhem of ‘Book Chor – Close the Box’, India’s biggest book sale. As the name suggests, you can purchase any of the 3 different sized boxes and then fit in as many books as you can. While the cheapest box lets you fit 8-10 books, the biggest of the lot lets you accommodate as many as 30 books. With the prices ranging from INR 999 (~$15) to INR 2,499 (~$35), it is an absolute steal if you can get your hands on some good books.
When we entered the salehouse, we were greeted with a sea of people, with book readers thronging the aisles in thousands trying to add the perfect books to their collections. There were people surrounded by book forts faced with the unenviable task of discarding some books, there were people making futile attempts to cram twice as many books as their boxes could possibly carry, there were people who were just happy to plug in their headphones, plonk themselves in the middle of all this madness and quietly read a book, and there were also some people, superheroes in my opinion, who were catering to ad-hoc book requests on WhatsApp groups from friends across the country.
Once we managed to make our way precariously past these minefields, we reached the books themselves. Reportedly more than a million, the books lined up the wide walls, sat in stacks over the corners, and stood proudly in boxes atop tables in the middle. With most of the really good books sold on the first day itself, the pickings were understandably slim. But after 2-3 hours of relentless scrounging, hunting, and cramming, I had a big satisfied grin on my face as I lugged my box of books home.
While I generally prefer reading fiction on my Kindle, I have this tendency to hoard hard copies of nonfiction. With a growing interest in economics and politics, I was happy to snag brand new editions of House of Trump / House of Putin, The New Confessions of an Economic Hitman, and The Fifth Risk. I was lucky enough to find beautiful hardbound copies of the third and fourth parts of Conn Iggulden’s Conqueror (Genghis Khan) series hidden amidst a pile of Wilbur Smith books. Having devoured the first two books on my Kindle, this worked out rather perfectly. I also got a huge tome, a Wilbur Smith 5-in-1 collection, for my dad, who thoroughly enjoys his books.
Being a huge fan of DK Publications, I was disappointed to find precious little from the publisher. But my wife managed to find the perfect DK book, The Young Astronomer for my favorite nephew, whose passion had recently progressed from dinosaurs to astronomy. While I had missed out on DK’s wonderful coffee table books for myself, I still got the gorgeous looking BBC Oceans, a tie-in to the BBC documentary series. The football fan in me was happy to get an annual yearbook from Copa90, while I had to count myself lucky to even find a comic on the second day of the sale, a DC Rebirth edition of Batman Beyond. Though some people had mentioned finding as many as 15 Discworld books on the first day, it was slim pickings on the SciFi/Fantasy front and I had to contend myself with Andy Weir’s Artemis and Marie Lu’s Warcross.
As we trudged outside the mayhem and bedlam, we were left with the surreal experience of hunting for hidden treasures among the million books alongside a teeming crowd of friendly bibliophiles.