Premier bookshop located off M.G.Road and Church street closed operations a few days ago. With this an era of selling books came to an end.
35 years ago, in the early years of my general medical practice, I made little money and had lots of time. This time I spent in reading. The only places where the books were available cheap were a lending library located some distance away and second hand bookshops off M.G.Road. The bookshops that sold new books were many but the one that drew my attention was premieres. I would first visit the second hand bookshops and then go over to Premiere. The books I took home were generally from second hand [used] and thus cheap. Even these were bought far and between. But I liked the feel and look of new books and loved reading them. So I frequented premieres.
Unlike other bookstores in that area, Mr. Shanbhag of Premiere was a book lover himself and he and I soon discovered each other for what we are. This is how it happened. I would go and stand there in front of the rows of book shelves and select a book and start reading. Time would go by and I would shift from one leg to the other. After some time I would stop and then go home with my used book either borrowed [lending library] or bought from some other shop. On one such occasion seeing my shifting from one leg to the other, Mr. Shanbhag came to me with a stool and requested me to sit and read. Thus I could continue for an hour and from where I left the previous visit. But this was not an ideal arrangement and his book shop was not meant for itinerant book lovers like me. But the man’s heart [or business sense] was large. Another day while I was busy reading he came and said,’ would you like to take it home and read?’ Would I? As long as I brought the book back in the same condition that I took it, it was OK with him.
This relationship between us which began with no profit to the owner, blossomed and I began buying books when I could afford. This continued for many many years till access to MG road became difficult and frequency of my visits to his place became less. But of the many persons who have shaped my character and life, Mr. Shanbhag the book seller and book lover must take a prominent place.