Premier Book Shop

For today’s My World post, I wish to present a World that was mine, but not any more now. A book shop, here in Bangalore: The Premier Bookshop. It doesn’t exist any more and I miss it terribly. The shop doesn’t have any great ambiance as is there in some of the modern bookstores in the city. It is cramped up and books stacked up in every possible corner. But ask Shanbag, the proprietor of the shop for any book, and he will immediately be able to locate it in that chaos of books.

The shop existed for 37 years and in Feb’09, the shop closed down. Some of my friends have spent hours standing there reading expensive books, those not affordable, preparing for exams and Shanbag was the last person to object. A straight 20% discount was given on all books,, which is unimaginable in any other book shops. Shanbag admitted, “I know its upsetting to close the place down and many of my customers are upset as well,” then he added, “But what I can do? I do not have a choice.”

I did make a last visit in the last week of January ’09 and had taken these shots then, in between making the final purchases from that shop. When I asked him what he intended to next,he smiled and replied he wanted to spend some time with his daughter in Australia. Bangalore is expanding at a fast rate, all old buildings are being pulled down, and the city is getting a face lift…well, all these at the cost of favorite old haunts.

See more of the World at: That’s My World
Aihole, Bagalkot Karnataka
Bahubali At Shravanabelagola

63 Responses to “Premier Book Shop

  • Great tribute to the bookstore. I hate seeing the smaller ones close down. In the U.S. where I live we used to have so many interesting books stores with owners I'd get to know in my area. One by one most have closed with the huge chains taking over.

  • That's so sad. As much as I enjoy new bookstores, with their reading areas and coffee shops, my absolute favorites are the ones like this – with books stacked higher than my head. There is just something pleasant and wonderful about being surrounded by books!

  • This is a very sad story. It resonates with me as I was a manager of a bookstore for 18 yrs that had to close due to the building ownership requiring more space for itself. The is nothing like a comfortable place to unhurriedly graze through books, then maybe buying one that can't be lived without. I share your loss.

  • I'm glad you gave the shopkeeper this tribute, Indrani!

  • Very cool myworld entry, thanks for sharing.

    Have a great week
    Regina In Pictures

  • That looks like a great bookshop what a shame that it had to close after all those years.

  • Marvelous post, Indrani! I understand how you feel about losing a favorite place, and like you, I love a good bookstore. Your photos capture it perfectly!

    Have a lovely week!

  • Sad to see old establishments be pushed out of business by modernization. It must have been a disneyland for book lovers to be able to browse here. I would have loved to just smell the books.

  • What a pity that the shop had to close.
    Its the kind of place where you can pick up the most unexpected book if you just have the time to browse through the chaos.
    I love that type of shop.
    Interesting post.

  • It is a difficult thing to bear, isn't it?

  • It is tragic when you lose an institution like this. Not only a landmark in ones life as a favourite bokshop so often is, but a welcoming place where you know you can always stop by and browse a while. The new, modern and corporate can never replace the charm and romance of a bookstore like this.
    A lovely tribute to a wonderful place.

  • I love the look of this bookshop. A place I could have gotten lost in for days. What a shame it had to close. But I guess nothing goes on forever. Nice post.

  • Wonderful tribute to the bookstore. There should be more like this one! Bookstores are very special places — especially the older ones — not the Borders, Barnes & Noble of the world!

  • Very true, it is at these book stalls you will be able to find every book you need. In the fast pace growth of the city the old charm is getting lost. What is lost, can never be regained.

  • can understand your distress…
    strangely there is a similar bookshop in mumbai 'strand book stall' owned by a shanbag who passed away recently but the shop thrives. these shanbags sure have made a fine contribution to our society!

  • Oh we too have such shops long time ago, all in one place ie. Bras Basah Road. They sold mainly second hand books. Sometimes we can find cheap school textbooks from these bookshops. But they are not here anymore. Nowadays most of us can afford new books and it is not profitable to open a second hand book store anymore. I sure miss those second hand bookshop, sometimes we can find old and unique books there that are unavaible in big bookstore.

  • thats just what the Strand book stall here in bbay is , or rather .. was like…… again a Mr. Shanbhag here too….. but havent been there lately… your post brought back a lot of memories…

  • Ohh this place really looks full of books. I can understand how the regulars would feel at the shutting down of the shop.

  • That would be my book hangout too if I was there. He seemed to have a good knowledge where he had put all the books. Nobody ever wanted to continue? That´s sad.

  • What a loss – love those musty, dusty places that aren't part of a corporate chain. Obviously the owner loved books.

  • Very sad that a bookshop also has to close down in the name of progress

  • What a heavenly place for booklovers like me! I have many books, but I know I have to give them away some time, when I have to move to a smaller house. Thanks for your post!

  • That is so sad. I could spend hours in there!

    PS: Mr Shanbag seems like a very nice person.

  • Hi Indrani!
    That would be my paradise; it used to be a bookstore in Lisbon that was similar to this one; unfortunately went bankrupt… 🙁

    Interested in Rural Iceland? Blogtrotter has it, before the Blue Lagoon. Enjoy and have a fabulous week!

  • It's great to poke around in a bookshop like this.

  • It's sad that a favorite haunt of yours had to go. I love books and bookshops. I'd feel the same way as you if a bookshop in my world has to be closed down. The photos also made this post bittersweet.

  • I would miss that bookstore, too. What a collection!

  • Yes, booklovers will miss it terribly.

  • These kind of stores are really so helpful. Pity they closed it. The collection of books seemed really huge. There used to be a few raddi-walas in my aread who had started with a similar kind of library/bookshop where you can buy a 2nd-hand book. Once you are through reading, you get refunded 70% of the amount you'd paid for the book. Tell you, it really helps some of the poor students who can't afford to buy the brand new study books or pleasure readings…

  • it's always sad to hear when a bookshop like this one closes down giving way to gigantic modern bookstores…it's like watching shop around the corner in YOu've got mail. ^-^
    the interior may look small and the books,disheveled, but i bet they have all the rare and hard to find books…

    good for him to take a vacation… it can ease off his mind not to worry so much…^-^

  • That athmosphere your photo's breather is wonderful! I have seen a bookshop like that in Australia. It was really cute, and it was a combined tea shop, people could cave coffee or tea there sitting at small old wooden tables browsing through their purchases, so lovely.

  • This is so sad. The facelift indian cities are going through is erasing memories and history rapidly. The places I grew up in in Chennai are literally not there any more.

    It's great you took the pictures. The shop will live on at least in memory.

  • What a lot of books is right! That must be what the Internet looks like in hard copy! And what a shame to lose such a cool place.

  • Indrani
    (too late now, but you could have taken over – I'm not joking)
    I had heard about the book shop before, now I don't remember where. There are some changes we can do without… 🙁

  • Hi Indrani,
    So sad to miss such a fantastic shop.. Here in Madras, there is one such 'Azhwar Kadai' – Azhwar's Shop in Mylapore… YOur pics remind me of that place..
    Also, so long since you last visited my blog… Thanks for visiting again and commenting…
    Do drop in often… Would love your visits and comments and followups… 🙂
    And I've started following ur blog… 🙂
    My Travelogue

  • In reading your post I have two emotions: the first is the surprise to see how many books
    may stay in a store…
    the second is the sadness: the expansion of cities, the process of modernization also clears the stores that were the living heart and part of identity.
    Dampers close to make room to large distribution chains equal
    worldwide, Mc Donalds where before a small shop gave the pleasure of meeting.
    Thank you, precious images and thoughts, as always!

  • I think each city had its share of little stores – for books, for groceries, for that little snack. Most have gone, and only few have been able to withstand the onslaught of the bigger stores. And in trying to do so, have lost the charm that their stores originally had. But I guess it is survival that matters and they have to keep with the changing times.

  • Sometimes progress is painful. Hopefully the old will give way to a better new that in time will become a treasure.

    Have a beautiful day.

  • It was really sad that Premier shut down.

    But sadder still was none of us could bail him out of the problem, so that either Premier could be shifted to another place near M G Road itself or may be even a little away; or the books could be transferred en masse to another library.

    There was so much passion aroused, in similar manner, when Indian Coffee House was shut. But it was relocated to Church Street.

    Why couldn't such a thing happen to Premier? In fact, Premier got as much or even more publicity in the media than the coffee house.

  • In my country are also almost all little shops gone 🙁
    I don't like the big shops in big places.
    I can't find there anything ;(
    Its also cozy in little shops
    and you can make a chat with the owner 🙂
    Your shots are amazing,
    I can see the "conviviality"
    ( hihi.. I hope it the right word)
    on your shots :)))
    A miracle that the owner can find every book in the unsorted shop..

  • As for small city wallas like us book fair is only place where one could get his fav book.

  • A sad Story no doubt…Lots of old things are becoming vulnerable to rithless expansion…perhaps that too will happen with Kolkata College Street some day!


  • I think i went to this place last time around and got a few books actually, it was somewhere close to church st, sort of across kc das, right? i spent a while chatting with the guy as well, he was surprised to see somebody asking about history books..

  • Very interesting.

  • I feel that way when I see pictures of some places I took barely years ago… and now they are no longer there!! B
    ook shops are special places, and if you have memories there, I can imagine the disappointment…but what happened to all the books? I hope somebody else interested in opening book shops bought the whole stock!

  • Indrani, this is a beautiful post replete with sadness.

  • I well understand you miss that bookstore: what a large assortment!
    Very interesting images, Indrani.

  • it is great to b looking at yr pics again. book stores r gradually being replaced by chain stores

  • it is sad to see such bookstores closing down. share your pain!

  • sad……and one feels a sense of personal loss when such things happen..

  • Wonderful tribute to the bookstore. It is a sad sign of our times….

  • vaah….kyaa baat aapke blog kee…..

  • Retrograde steps in the name of progress! I would much prefer to retain some of these wonderful old places, especially book shops.

  • This seems a real past place, where one simple people can stay very peaceful!! A great past place!!!
    Thanks Marco

  • It must have been a great place as different types of books are kept.Really huge collection.But the people must be feeling very bad as the bookstore is going to be closed specially who used to visit regularly to read books.

  • It is sad to see them go..

    and those books? did he have a last sale of it?

    but then you have the latest stores where each section is well segregated and one can easily find a book according to one's taste…b

  • That's a heart-breaker. I know of many a wonderful old book store which has had to shut down due to the likes of the super sellers which appear everywhere these days. There's nothing like the service you get from the one who personally owns the shop. For those few that remain.. book stores or otherwise, I try to shop them as much as possible. Thanks for sharing this small treasure of the past.

  • What a unique and delightful bookstore and owner. It's too bad he had to close it.

  • It is very sad indeed, a landmark and a piece of local history and existence gone..I am wondering why he couldn't just sell the shop to someone else

  • Missing our favorite place is always sad. We might get another shop or place to caught up our interest, but the place we practiced for long and been familiar could never get anywhere. Long live books and such representatives.

  • I think he can set up an online shop, with the same name and start shipping the books to people who order them there. Has the book loving population of cities reduced drastically over the last couple of decades??

    Destination Infinity

  • Hi, I chanced upon your blog while searching for Premier book shop, Bangalore. i used to be a regular there in the 80s and early 90s. After a long gap, last week I strolled through MG Road – I missed Premier.

    Would you greatly mind if I use your picture of Mr.Shanbagh for my blog post? Do check out my blog

    If you have any objection in my using the photo, do let me know; i will remove it pronto. I have to use it now, because I have to get the post out of my system!

    regards, B

  • A very thoughtful topic and post.I got to know of your Blog through my chum Balachandran.

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