Thursday, March 26, 2009

Remembering T. N. Shanbhag: The Man Behind Strand Book Stall

Our Twitter friend @RaviBramha led us to this blog post. T.N. Shanbhag, the founder of Strand Book Stall passed away on February 27, 2009.

Here is his story... (Via Straying Around)
Many know that Mr. Shanbhag started his book stall as a kiosk in the erstwhile Strand Cinema (thus the name) in Colaba on November 20, 1948 and moved it to its present location in 1954. Geeta Chadha who has written a chapter "Mirroring the Precinct", in the book Zero Point Bombay on The Horniman Circle precinct writes: "Having been humiliated in a reputed bookstore of the time for touching a book, the young Shanbhag wanted to start a bookstore where the access to ‘Saraswati' would not be restricted to the elite, but would be open to a wider section of the people. Shanbhag approached Keki Mody, the owner of Strand Cinema with his idea, and that is how the Strand Book Stall came into being on the premises of the cinema hall." Ths idea came to him during the screening of "Cheaper by the Dozen" at Strand Cinema.

I have seen him, many a times forego much more than 20% for students and others who did not have enough to cover the bill. The additional book was always thrown in. This would never have happened in any other book store. He always used to say that Saraswati can never be bought or sold. He had in-depth knowledge of any book that you wanted which made you feel that he must have read each and every of the lakhs of titles in his store and I am sure he must have.
Via Business Line (from an article published in 2003)
Shanbag was committed to sell books at affordable prices. "I believe a book is man's best friend," he explains. "A book seller acts as a catalyst between a book and the reading habit."

Shanbag is not the kind of person who would refer to a book as a `product' or `commodity'. For him, a book has life, it communicates and gives pleasure to people. He is one of those rare people who are in business not just to make money.
Read another article on T.N. Shanbhag and Strand Book Stall here.

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