City Landmark – Timeless Art Book Studio, Kotla Mubarakpur

City Landmark - Timeless Art Book Studio, Kotla Mubarakpur

Delhi’s best coffee-table bookshop gets a second life.

[Text and pictures by Mayank Austen Soofi]

While the world is reeling under the global economic meltdown, a new bookshop in Kotla Mubarakpur village is hoping that slump-hit Delhiwallas will come to buy some of the most expensive coffee table books collected under one roof in this city.

Strictly speaking, Timeless Art Book Studio is not new. Until a few years ago, the bookstore was in the same neighbourhood but closer to ring road. Then art book lovers would brave the South Extension chaos and pollution to buy thick volumes priced in four digits. However, due to the sealing drive, the bookstore was shut down on June 12th, 2007, and Timeless’s time ended.

In March, 2009, Mr Raavi Sabharwal, its 63-year-old owner, revived the book studio. A two-minute walk from the earlier site, the studio has the same luxurious feel, but the look is grander.

Spread across 1,600 sq. ft, this is a rich, rich world of Italian marbles, teak and a louvered French window. The most expensive book here, The Godfather Family Album, costs Rs 40,000.

But this is not just any coffee table bookstore. There’s a plasma screen television, love seats, lecterns, footstalls, rocking chairs, a six-seater dining table and… hold your pajamas, a double bed!

“I want this place to be like a personal library,” says Mr Sabharwal.

This bearded man himself is quite a character. Born in what is now Pakistan, Mr Sabharwal, who rides a Harley Davidson, is sort of a 3-in-1. A wholesaler, retailer and publisher, he is the South Asia distributor of such prestigious art book houses like Taschen, Antique Collector’s Club and Prestel.

Way back in the 80s, Mr Sabharwal had a shop called Times Book Gallery in Khan Market but after a divorce settlement, his ex-wife turned it into a shoe showroom. Unaffected, he moved to South Ex I to start Timeless.

In the 12 years before it closed, this bookstore had built up a loyal clientele of fashion designers, architects, artists, collectors, actors, authors, and foreign diplomats. The question is, can the magic be re-created in this new-avtar Timeless that stands just next to a grimy dhaba?

As a lady visitor lay sprawled on the double bed flipping through a wrist-breaking tome while the store was serenading her with Miles Davis, Mr Sabharwal tries explaining the logic of opening a luxury bookstore in hard times. “It’s like love in the time of cholera,” he says. “I’m doing something when everyone is running for their lives.” But will people buy these pricey books? “Money does come, somehow.”

Where 1882, Bhaskar Bhawan, Kotla Mubarakpur Ph 9811-791-246

Very inviting

City Landmark - Timeless Art Book Studio, Kotla Mubarakpur

First, coffee

City Landmark - Timeless Art Book Studio, Kotla Mubarakpur

Mr Sabharwal with a friend

City Landmark - Timeless Art Book Studio, Kotla Mubarakpur

Bedtime reading

City Landmark - Timeless Art Book Studio, Kotla Mubarakpur