The wrinkled pages and discoloured skin of the books are reminiscent not of old age, but of a good life. Most of the bindings are undone from the faded yellow pages but each has still found a home despite its tattered state. A small garage shutter with the owner’s number hand-painted on the top right greets you at this little place in RA Puram. Govindaraju an advocate by profession owns this Rare bookshop and has a collection of over 10,000 books.
The place is a reader’s treasure trove, based out of the owner’s garage. Completely different from the 21st-century book shopping experience, this shop store has rare books all the way from 1826. The cost of the books ranges from Rs. 10 to Rs. 5000.
“It’s been more than 45 years since I started collecting books. It is one of my hobbies. I collect books and sell them but I keep some of the important or rare books,” explains Govindaraju. “The habit of reading and collecting books came from my father. He is also a book lover and collector. Penguin books were my first collection of books as those were the cheapest books then”.
Started almost a decade ago, the store has close to 5,000 books across various genres such as literature, poetry, history, philosophy, culture, heritage and the arts. The people, who love geography can swing by to browse through more than 500 editions of the National Geographic magazine at the store.
“I have been visiting the rare book store for the past 14 years and I feel that Govindaraju has an amazing knowledge about books”, says TripurasundariSevvel, and a regular visitor. “Local bookstores are tying thoughts in a city and I think he is one person who is holding on for the Madras. My collection of books for Madras started with him: after seeing his collection of postcards and tram tickets and I make it a point to visit the store once a month”.
Tripurasundari adds, “More than calling it as a bookshop it is a knowledge warehouse where we can learn so much.”
Apart from books that have been preserved from the 1940s, one can find vintage collection of print ads, camera equipment, vintage newspaper and magazine cartoons and other such memorabilia.
“People who love solving crossword puzzles can pick from close to 500 puzzles at this shop”, says Swetha, a student and visitor at the store....