City Landmark – Elite Bookstore, Ber Sarai
[Text and photos by Mayank Austen Soofi]
You can’t really squeeze very many customers into this tiny bookshop at any one time.
Nor do the plastic chairs and noisy ceiling fan suggest the true nature of the just-named Elite bookstore.
For, elite it is.
Browsing this south Delhi shop is like gate-crashing a professor’s private study. Volumes by French philosopher Roland Barthes vie with hardbacks by legendary Sanskrit scholar Sheldon Pollock.
Elite Bookstore deliberately offers an astonishingly wide arc of themes, seeking to match expectations with titles as tempting as Shakespeare, Sex and Love. This shop at Ber Sarai is, in other words, a niche world of scholarly books.
Then there’s an unusually large collection of works on Karl Marx. This is not entirely surprising, since the shop is within walking distance of Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) that shelters some left-wing tendencies.
“Many of our customers are research students from JNU.” explains proprietor Sharad Kapoor. “But I also supply books to many libraries and institutions.” That may explain the presence of such esoteric titles like Revolution in the Service of Poetry, or, somewhat enigmatic, The Companion to Aesthetics.
Come here if you want to get an idea of how a public intellectual’s library looks like. The store is open every day except Sundays from noon to 8:30 pm.