Book Lovers’ Retreat is the only book shop in Amritsar
Despite odds, the lone book shop in holy city continues to survive
Owner refuses to shut down in face of internet onslaught
Says the shop is his passion
In the age of internet when reading habits are declining, particularly in the younger generation, a ‘lone ranger’ stands out in the holy city saddled cosily in a corner of his shop surrounded by best sellers and other books, ranging from autobiographies, thrillers and even books on religion, culture and even travel. Like the lone ranger of the American wild west who fights for justice, our very own ranger is waging a battle of sorts to inculcate a passion for books and reading amongst the residents of Amritsar. This ranger is none other than Brij Inder Mohan, the owner of ‘Book Lovers’ Retreat’, the lone book shop in the city in the busy Hall Bazaar. This is the only book shop in the city where a variety of reading material, excluding the school and college books, is available. “ Mentally and bodily I am attached to this shop. I too have a passion for reading and will never part with my shop even if I am not making a profit. If you are in a profession you have to be part of it and I am part of this shop and the books that are displayed here”, says Mohan while pointing to the books lying on the shelfs. The ‘Book Lovers Retreat’ has been in existence since 1960 and Mohan joined it in 1961 as a worker. The shop was opened by Maan Singh, a local residents and Mohan purchased it in 1972 after the owners death, whose son wanted to sell it off. Later in 2003, Mohan purchased the building in which the shop was located.
“ Before the advent of the internet, youngsters and others came here to purchase their favourite books and novels including classic ones. But with online availability of novels particularly the latest ones, the desire to own a hard copy of a novel has declined”, he said. But despite the hard times, he has no plans to shut down his shop. He can open another business and get better profits or can even give the shop on rent but his passion and attachment to books keeps him going. “ Even if I sell one good book in a day I feel satisfied. Profits mean nothing to me in front of my passion”, he adds while holding a copy of ‘The Accidental Prime Minister’ . He points out that now and then customers come looking for this book on former PM Dr Manmohan Singh. Similar book selling outlets were opened in other parts of the city in the last one decade but all have shut down as the residents here do not have the passion for reading. Even if a youngster has a love for books, he will prefer to search online for it . “ Parents often come into the shop with their children but when they see the price of a novel chosen by their child, they just leave the book back on the shelf and tell the child to read it online
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