Daryaganj Kitaab Bazaar: A market that survived the tide of change

30th May 2016
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In the era of technology, when many old ways have almost gone extinct, the traditional book publishing and retailing industry has managed to survive. The enormous weekly Kitab Bazaar or Sunday market of Daryaganj is a living example of this tradition in the age of Amazon's Kindle.

The book market is the place where from the classical novels of Mark Twain and Thomas Hardy to the contemporary works of JK Rowling and Arundhati Roy are available for Rs 100. There are old comics, magazines, textbooks, etc.

Established in 1964, the Sunday Book Market is a two kilometre stretch from Dilli Darwaza to Lohe ka pul (which is now non-existent). It hosts over 250 bookstalls which collectively do business of over Rs 40 lakh every week. The market opens on the pavement from 10 am to dusk.

“Hundreds of people throng this place to buy books. In this market, you can buy books virtually on any topic, at throwaway prices,” says AL Verma, Vice President of Daryaganj Sunday Book Bazaar.

He adds that the market caters to every demand of consumers ­ be it academic books or literary books or children's books.

According to Verma, the market has been popular among politicians, writers, and others. Writers like William Darlymple and (the late) Khushwant Singh have been regular visitors to the market.

In this age of technology, when the business has gone online and many companies are selling books on their website, the market has been trying to keep up with the technology. It has launched its website where all the information about the market is available with the names of all the booksellers of the bazaar.

In its 50 years history, the market has also faced many challenges and fought many battles against the administration to keep the existence of the market.

“We have faced many issues from the administration which tried tooth and nail to throwaway the market from here. We went to the court to allow us to stay at the same place. We fought the case for a few years and won the case against the administration,” says Verma.

The market association aims to make the market more popular and has approached the administration to provide more facilities to the public.

“The market lacks in even some basic facilities like public convenience. Besides, there have been cases of pickpocketing recorded during the Sunday market. We aim to make this market more secure for book buyers,” says Verma.

The Sunday Daryaganj Kitab bazaar is thriving, it seems, in defiance of all book reading technology, and it's interesting to observe that there are a few things which remain unchanged.

Video Credits:

Camera person: Manoj Upadhyaya

Video Editor: Anand

Production Assistant: Vincent Arthur

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