BOOK EN­DERS!

SIX OWN­ERS OF FOUR ICONIC BOOK­STORES HELP US AN­SWER THE Q OF THE MO­MENT: IN THE BAT­TLE OF LONG FORM VS SHORT AT­TEN­TION SPANS, WHO WILL WIN?

Hindustan Times - Brunch - - Front Page - Text by Dr­ishti Vij Pho­tos by Dolly Hao­ram­bam

I’ll tell you this: many of my friends don’t read. Even though we’re the most woke gen­er­a­tion! The In­ter­net has sur­ro­gated our lives with ar­ti­fi­cial real­i­ties. Once brows­ing through a book­store for leisure seemed like fun, now you can or­der on­line. De­spite this, our at­ten­tion spans are limited to 140-char­ac­ter tweets, con­ver­sa­tions are re­duced to ab­bre­vi­a­tions and sto­ries…well, that’s lit­er­ally an icon on your Snapchat. Per­haps that’s the rea­son why not too long ago Pak­istani writer Fa­tima Bhutto was urg­ing peo­ple to re­turn to read­ing by post­ing a ‘shelfie’ in­stead of a ‘selfie’ on her In­sta­gram.

All our cover stars share this undy­ing pas­sion for books with Ms Bhutto. These ex­tra­or­di­nary in­di­vid­u­als have tire­lessly cul­ti­vated spa­ces that aim to el­e­vate the lit­er­ary ex­pe­ri­ence in an age where books aren’t just com­pet­ing with e-books but also doc­u­men­taries, podcasts, au­dio books, Net­flix. So how is it that a sim­ple 2-D book can still man­age to go beyond the multi-di­men­sional world of the In­ter­net?

I asked these ques­tions to six book­store own­ers at the li­brary in Bikaner House, a quaint cor­ner in the oth­er­wise mag­nif­i­cent and cul­tur­ally abuzz build­ing.

MAK­ING A CASE FOR READ­ING From left: Kapil and Priya Kapoor of CMYK, Ajay Mago of Om Book Shop, Ra­jni Mal­ho­tra (seated) and Anuj Bahri of Bahrisons and Priti Paul of Ox­ford Book­store

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