City Markets – The Book Bazaar on Wheels

The Book bazaar on wheels. It will make a catchy name for the bazaar. Especially when it does not have one. Some call it Gulshan Book Bazaar and others know it by its proximity to Bait-ul-Mukarram mosque. Even the booksellers find it difficult to recall if it ever had a name. It does not need one. A lot of people who have lived in the vicinity recall it vividly. It has lost its luster though. It was temporarily shut down after anti-encroachment drive few year back. Imagine that. Getting rid of books in a culture where reading habit is already dismal.The bazaar is situated in an empty plot between two building blocks. It is easily accessible from Hassan Square or Nipa chowrangi.

The Karachi Walla made a stop there on Sunday noon. The first impression was that of excitement to see so many blockbusters on display. The second impression was of dismay as I figured that most of new titles were pirated. It was bittersweet to see many Pakistani writers in that section. While it meant that there was a larger audience for Pakistani fiction in English, it would never benefit writer and publisher commercially who struggle to generate funds.

The booksellers were knowledgeable about books in their own way. One of them waved copy of Shazaf Haider’s ‘How it happened’ in front of me and said that it had recently come out and was selling very well. The book was released in 2012 but perhaps the pirated copy printer had got hold of it only now.

There were used books also, mostly classics in English and Urdu. Urdu short stories and novels were in great number and variety and thankfully were not pirated. The booksellers knew the books by cover and popularity. Shazaf Haider and Mohsin Hamid were among the best sellers for the month. Arundhati Roy was not far behind. Umera Ahmed though seem to dominated Urdu section. The Urdu digests from bygone era dotted few bookshelves.

Perhaps the publishers could find a way to cut costs on publications especially by Pakistani writers. It would be fantastic if the pirated books could be replaced with paperback editions. God willing.

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Categories: City Markets

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2 Comments on “City Markets – The Book Bazaar on Wheels”

  1. November 7, 2017 at 11:07 am #

    I guess the bookstalls started cropping up there in the early 2000 when Jamiat arranged a book-fair. Afterwards, a couple of “imported” booksellers encroached the open land (meant for a playground I guess). These importers, mostly from Khori Garden, brought discarded books and used to sell them by weight! When asked for the price, the seller lift the book in the hand to gauge it weight before quoting. Gradually these stands replaced by old book carts.


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