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?
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