Railway Bookstalls Get a Makeover
Railway bookstalls across the country have had a makeover, thanks to new marketing tactics by publishers and those in the book distribution trade, driven by what they perceive as the changing profile and reading habits of the railway traveller. A quick browse at the bookstall at the New Delhi station reveals Amartya Sen’s Argumentative Indian rubbing shoulders with Mario Puzo’s Godfather; Amitav Ghosh’s Sea of Poppies flanking Suketu Mehta’s Maximum City; Aravind Adiga’s and Kiran Desai’s Booker-winning titles White Tiger and Inheritance of Loss cheek-by-jowl with that old Bates’ guide on how to improve your eyesight without glasses (though some would say it would need more than better vision to plough through these two tomes).
Publishers have stopped looking at railway bookstalls as an insignificant little cottage industry. “The sheer volume of passengers who pass through platforms makes railway bookstalls an important destination on the publisher’s map,” says V.K. Karthika, publisher and chief editor of HarperCollins India.
“Our pick of titles reflects today’s market reality,” says Arvind Sharma of A.H. Wheeler & Co. “Authors who do well in the market find a place in our stores—whether they write bestsellers or more serious fiction,” agrees M. Raju, manager of the Higginbotham stores at Chennai. “Railway bookstores are tuned to customers’ demands.
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