Bookshops are many in Mumbai. From chain stores like Crossword and Landmark to the roadside stalls which sell books dirt cheap! The only problem however with them is that they are limited in their collection. The former only has bestsellers and not old books such as those from the 80s’ or even the early 90s'(unless they were bestsellers they won’t have those books). While the latter do have huge collections and some roadside booksellers will also have that one rare book you are looking for!
There are a cluster of old bookshops located in South Mumbai. And before you stop reading this post, thinking that I will write about the Strand Bookshop, then you are quite wrong, my friend. Strand Bookshop is quite a homely bookshop, agreed but this post is about a really good, old, yet rarely acknowledged bookshop in Kalbadevi. Its name is ‘The New And Secondhand Bookshop.‘ I will make a bet that not many people have heard of this place before.
Firstly, this bookstore was established in 1905 and is therefore over a hundred years old, 110 years old to be exact. Unlike the chain bookstores or roadside book stalls, this place has a phenomenal collection. As the name suggests, it has both new and second hand books. From obscure textbooks to national geographic books to forgotten poetry books to valuable history, psychology, anthropology books and to fiction of course, this bookshop has it all! They even have a few books that are priced at only Rs. 10. It is two storeyed shop and it can be easily missed if one doesn’t pay attention.
The best aspect of this bookstore, apart from its huge collection, is the atmosphere. There is a lingering smell of dusty books that pervades the shop. As you browse through the long, endless shelves and come across books in beautiful bindings, hardbound, leather bound, you get the feeling that you are transported back in time, wandering in a lost library that has some how managed to salvage its books in a pretty good condition. The seclusion of these shelves allows you to feel that you are about to explore or discover a new book. And trust me, you are bound to stumble upon some rare book or an old one at least if you look diligently. This feeling of seclusion and exploration is heightened on the first floor where it is rather dark but not dingy. Here there are some research/encyclopedia type books. Not many people come up here and you are mostly alone browsing these shelves.
The prices may not be very cheap and bargaining may be difficult, but I suppose all book lovers should come here at least once just to breathe in its musty, library like atmosphere. However, if you are addicted to swanky, plush bookstores with perfect lighting that sparkle off brand new books neatly displayed on polished shelves kept on carpeted floors, then skip this shop completely! ‘The New and Secondhand Bookshop‘ is not the one to cater to your luxury needs of bookstores. They are only there to cater to your bookish needs and the store owners are quite helpful if you ask them about one particular book. They know their books thoroughly and their affection for them can be seen which is lacking in many owners of chain bookstores who see books only as a means to an end and have no attachment whatsoever with them.
‘The New And Secondhand Bookshop (NSB)‘ is located on the Kalbadevi Road, Kalbadevi,Mumbai, 400002. Furtados and Metro and Edward Cinema are close by landmarks. The nearest station is Marine Lines on the Western Line and CST on the Central Line.
My suggestion for all book lovers would be to go here not only to buy books but also for the pleasure of simply browsing through the rows of shelves.