The IT capital has less than half the population of the Delhi National Capital Region and Mumbai. It's smaller than Kolkata. Yet, it's today the biggest market for books in India. And publishers say it has among the most sophisticated and discerning readers.
For Flipkart, India's biggest bookseller, Bangalore accounts for its biggest sales, followed by Mumbai and Delhi. For rival online retailer Amazon, Bangalore is a clear leader, followed by Hyderabad and then Mumbai.
For Hachette India, which publishes brands like John Grisham, Asterix, Enid Blyton, Stephen King, and Robert Ludlum, Bangalore accounts for 16%-18% of its all-India business. "This would be the picture by and large for trade publishers," says Thomas Abraham, MD, Hachette India.
He says Bangalore is today what Kolkata was some decades ago.
Bangalore too has seen some stores close. But it has also seen the addition of many, despite the onslaught of online retailers. Sapna Book House has been expanding. Newer, special interest stores have emerged like The Entertainment Store on Church Street for comics and collateral, and Light Room in Cox Town and Kutoohala in Basavanagudi for children's books. Bangalore perhaps has the highest children's-only stores anywhere, and those with a big focus on children's books like Atta Galatta and Bookstop, both in Koramangala.
Abraham says he judges a city's vibrancy by the quality and depth of stock of its second-hand bookstores. "Bangalore is taking on the mantle once held by Kolkata with its Free School Street and Chennai with Moore Market. In most cities, used bookstores predominantly keep textbooks or surplus stocks. In Bangalore, Blossom, Bookworm and others around Church Street are easily the best used bookstores in India. It's not just the ubiquitous bestseller but the rarity that one will find.