“I love walking into a bookstore. It’s like all my friends are sitting on shelves, waving their pages at me.”
~ Tahereh Mafi
I started online shopping for books with www.flipkart.com, since 2009. It was referred to me by a friend. The experience was amazing. Along with the ease of searching for my favourite book to the ease of navigation through the site to the process of ordering and finally getting it delivered at my doorstep in a maximum of 2-3 days was awesome. I simply loved the process. I still am doing it.
Back in those days, when I was in school, I had to save for months from my pocket money so that I can buy my favourite book. Buying books in book fairs every year was a special treat from Dad. Since then I had promised myself that if I manage to have a job after completion of my studies, I will make it a point to buy books every month. I will collect all those books which I had borrowed and read from my friends, library, etc. and then I will have a library of my own, consisting of all my favourite books. And coming across flipkart seemed to be a good way to fulfill my dream. 🙂 Now, right after I get my salary, I buy books every month from flipkart, without fail.
Yesterday I was out shopping with my sister and while walking on the footpath I saw a quaint little bookstore tucked in between some other big shops. In the city I live, there is a place where all the bookstores are located and very few are scattered in the main junctions of the city. But this little bookstore was situated in the busiest road of the city, a place where I least expected for it to be located at. And at that moment I realized, with great surprise, that I cannot even remember the last time I had visited a bookstore. I was getting late and could not enter it. But it set me thinking. I realized I had forgotten the joy, the pleasure that I found in a bookstore. I had forgotten the peculiar smell, of old books and new; the colourful maze of books through which I made my way to find my book. I had forgotten the joy of stumbling across new books in mismatched shelves and under handwritten signs. I had forgotten the happiness and excitement of wanting to buy every book in every rack of the store. I had long back forgotten the joy and pleasure that I used to get while making my purchase of a book in a physical bookstore. I had forgotten the pushing and making my way through the hundreds of people in a book fair. And this realization made me feel sad, in a different kind of way, a feeling I have never experienced before. I have associated books with only goodness & happiness & positivity. So this feeling was kind of different…. and unique…..
I have been successful in fulfilling my promise to myself, of buying books every month. But in the process of looking for ease and convenience of keeping my promise & getting some discount, I had foregone the joy and happiness of the process of searching, touching and smelling books. I have, long back, forgotten the feeling of being transported to a secluded place, a kind of cocoon building around me, where I have all the time in the world to relax and escape into the creative minds of the authors & their stories that have been immortalized in print, for generations to discover. I always say that I am never going to buy a kindle and read e-books because for me, they cannot equate the pleasure of a physical book – flipping through pages and smell of the book….. And now I realize, the same goes for a physical store and an online store.
So I promised myself, that along with online purchasing, I will visit a bookstore, every now and then and relive my experiences inside a bookstore – the smell, the colours, the confusion, the new discoveries, the little chat with the store-owner…..and everything else. I am not that busy that I cannot find some time to spend in doing something which brings happiness for me. I can never be that busy. In our fast moving lives, it is sometimes necessary to stop for some time and do things we like and love. I can always catch up with the others and even if I am late & left behind, my heart will be happy.
“I don’t want to be in my car all day. I love getting up in the morning in Venice & walking my dogs down to the café to get my tea, and then perhaps going to a bookstore and sitting and reading, then walking to the beach”.
~ Jessica Chastain