1. The Oxford Bookstore:
Situated adjacent to The Park Hotel you could not afford to miss The Oxford Bookstore, unless you were in a hurry to catch the metro at the other end of the road. The story of Oxford Bookstore began over 80 years ago in Park Street in Calcutta or Kolkata. Initially known as Oxford Book and Stationary, it soon carved a special niche for itself in the region, dominated by Thacker & Spink and Newman' s. The store stocks an enviable collection of nearly 1000 magazines covering topics like Design, Culture, Teens, Careers, Electronics, Gadgets, Computers, Cars, Music, Nature and Photography. The bookstore also offers an interesting music section along with a range of exclusive eco-friendly and new age stationary items.
Tucked away in one section you'll find huge tomes from another age. But all that reading makes you thirsty so might think of settling down at the Cha Bar located inside the store. What's better than mulling over a Crichton bestseller while savoring a steaming cup of Earl and Grey's?
A friend of mine who once worked for Crossword said that their secret of success was not to just offer a wide range of products, but to create an ambience that would get the customer to spend more time, and money, at the store. Well I'll tell you, this bookstore has got the 'buy two get one free' gimmick down to an art. The minute you enter, you're asked whether you fancy fiction, literature or art. If you don't have an immediate answer other than to say you were just browsing, the sales folk will get out of your way and leave you to meander among rows and rows of neatly stacked books complete with colorful labels neatly placed on the top of the shelves. Don't be too surprised if children outnumber the grown-up's. They are a very children friendly store. They might be the reason why a lot of children from Generation Next will possess more library cards than credit cards! Where were you when I was growing up??!
Books are serious business in the City of Joy. No wonder the Landmark bookstore entered into a 50:50 joint venture with the Rs 350 crore Emami Group to create the iconic Emami Landmark Bookstore conviently located at Lord Sinha Road just across the A/C Market on Theatre Road. Spread over 15,000 square feet you might want to make sure you're loaded before you swing through their glass doors into a mall ambience without the usual mall sounds. There are books on every topic under the sun as well as an impressive array of educational, technical and self-help volumes. The best time to visit would be after 5 in the evening because before that you would be engulfed by hordes of teenagers on their way home from school. You needn't baulk at the prices on the inside covers because the store has plenty of discounts and offer packages. If you're on a stop over in Kolkata be sure to drop in to savor these mental delights. This store really has made its mark!
4. Rightway Library:
Located on Eliot Road in the heart of central Kolkata is this wonderful store. What Rightway lacks in space it makes up for in sheer variety. Where else would you get a J.T.Edson classic in the original cover! Don't worry about jostling among the bookshelves, this one here is a regular booklover's haven. Everyone is too busy looking for that 'Mills & Boone" title they couldn't find anywhere else. If Rightway loves any writer it has to be Stephen King. The scribe from Bangor, Maine rules here. The King chronicles occupy pride of place just above the cashier's desk - aptly placed I guess! The ambience here is different. Its as if time stopped here in the mid eighties. The store has been around now for some thirty odd years and I know it intimately having lived within two blocks of it for a very long time. Besides sharing the same old world charm as Oxford both stores also specialize in hardbacks- a treat for ardent book lover! The next time you wish to add to your hardback edition - you know where to look...
5. The Family Book Shop:
In Kolkata, its every shop owner's dream to own an establishment on Park Street. We started with Oxford and we'll end with The Family Book Shop situated at 1A Park Street is a stone's throw from Oxford. Amazingly, notwithstanding their proximity, both are doing pretty good business. The owners must have a mutual agreement in not keeping similar titles, maybe that's what keeps them going side by side.
Besides a large collection of general fiction this store seems to specialize in Encyclopedia’s and Biographies. Even a casual glance at their display window will reveal this fact. Though they don't buy much into the 'buy 1 get 1 free' ploy their books do carry quite reasonable rates. They have nice set-up and the books are arranged on revolving stands all through the store which gives one plenty of leeway while rummaging through the titles on offer. A one stop shop for a host of educational books too - its difficult to get a look in at the start of the college season. They also conveniently have a separate counter if you wish to pay by plastic!
I have personally visited all of the 5 Bookstores mentioned in this article.
All except Rightway accepts credit cards.
All except Rightway are open on Sunday.
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