On Books and Bookcases

“But I am apt to use my books at any time,” I explain to the salesman. “I never can tell when it is coming on me. And when I want a book I want it quickly. I don’t want to have to send down to the office for the key, and I don’t want to have to manipulate any trick ball-bearings and open up a case as if I were getting cream-puffs out for a customer. I want a bookcase for books and not books for a bookcase.

–  Robert Benchley

Book Hunting in Boston – Week 2

Book Hunting in Boston

Week 2

MIT Coop

I went to MIT COOP opposite the MIT Press store to check for any affordable items to carry back home. But there were none. 😦 Most of them were over budget for me. But then I checked their basement for stuff. And there I saw one of the most extensive line up for science books that I have seen. They were not just a minor section in the store which usually is the case, but were the major part.

All the interesting ones lined up in shelves. But sadly no discount and hence no buy 😦

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Dover at MIT Coop
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Dover at MIT Coop

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Also they have all the Dover Publications books in print at one place, sorted according authors. Wow! Too many for me to handle. 😀 But for display only for me did not buy anything. But sure was overwhelming to look at them, all at the same place.

Boston Public Library

This was unplanned for. We were just roaming around the downtown area. And came out near the Boston Public Library established in 1852. The outside decoration is in form of the various authors in all fields of study. A few glimpses of the library

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Inscriptions on the building

McKim chose to have monumental inscriptions, similar to those found on basilicas and monuments in ancient Rome, in the entablature on each of the main building’s three façades. On the south is inscribed:

MDCCCLII • FOUNDED THROUGH THE MUNIFICENCE AND PUBLIC SPIRIT OF CITIZENS“;

on the east:

THE PUBLIC LIBRARY OF THE CITY OF BOSTON • BUILT BY THE PEOPLE AND DEDICATED TO THE ADVANCEMENT OF LEARNING • A.D. MDCCCLXXXVIII“;

and on the north:

THE COMMONWEALTH REQUIRES THE EDUCATION OF THE PEOPLE AS THE SAFEGUARD OF ORDER AND LIBERTY“.

Another inscription, above the keystone of the central entrance, proclaims:

FREE TO ALL“.

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Below each second-story arched window on the three façades are inscribed lists of the names of great historical writers, artists, scientists, philosophers, and statesmen.

 

Across the street from the central entrance to the library is a twentieth-century monument to the Lebanese-born poet and philosopher Kahlil Gibran who as a young immigrant educated himself in the Boston Public Library. The monument’s inscription responds to the McKim building reading

IT WAS IN MY HEART TO HELP A LITTLE, BECAUSE I WAS HELPED MUCH“.

The text is excerpted from a letter enclosed with Gibran’s generous bequest to the library.

The quote from Gibran definitely resonates with the experience that I have had with Internet Archive and GP (now sadly dead).

I lament that I did not go inside the library for the lack of time 😦

Barnes & Noble, Prudential Tower

This was again unplanned for. We went to visit to Prudential Tower, the store just comes out as soon as you enter. Since I had heard about it, I did go in. They had some wonderful collections of books, but I did not get anything from there.

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Rodney Book Store

Now this one was on the cards as per the original recommended list. I visited this one just before the day of departure. I could not get a photo of the entrance but only of the inside. The store is well stocked and well categorised.

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I wish I had more time at this store

 

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I got the above books at the store. With this one on M. C. Escher by Escher collection of classics is almost complete.

 

Blossoms in Bangalore…

Well, Blossoms in Bangalore? I was in Bangalore during the spring and start of summer 2010, and have seen quite a lot of them. Here is a sample!

But it is not this blossom that I am talking about. But there is a special Blossoms in Bangalore. It is round the year blossom of books! With the bibliophile that I am, the book is like a three storied candy shop.

But anyways, I came to know about this “candy shop” from Tanu. She told me that you MUST VISIT this place.

 http://www.blossombookhouse.com

Okay, then me and GN directly landed from the airport to the Blossoms Book House in Church Street. The store has a unique feature to store your bags, they have small lockers and you lock your bag and keep the key!

That apart the book store is one of the best that I have ever visited, no questions about that.
The lower floor has books on philosophy, nature, films, music, architecture, media. General reading etc.

The second floor is full of literature. This is a floor I have had not found time to visit in my two trips there.

The best is the third floor. It has books on science, mathematics, computers, psychology, history and biographies among others.

And the popular science section is amazing!
 They have all the titles arranged according to author names: like in a library and they maintain a computer catalog of these books. I got some really good titles here. Many of Mir books, Dover editions which were out of print. And that too at a reasonable if not cheap price always. The most commonly found book is Contact by Carl Sagan. I must have seen at least ~ 20 copies of this book in different editions in this store.

The best part is that along with new books they also have old and second hand books. Which really sets the day for you. Out of print and rare books to be found here!!

 Apart from that I met long forgotten volumes, it was like meeting old friends unexpectedly in a strange place. (Perhaps they were happy to meet me also 😉

We could not just finish in time, it was already their closing time. And I did not feel how the three hours went by. Me and GN were just collecting, filling basket after basket by books. Finally the time came to leave, and books amounted to two cartons! How were we supposed to carry? They suggested that they will send it by parcel to Mumbai! So were are done!

No matter what kind of books you read, you are sure to get them here!

The next time story was no different. And we were in till there closing time again!

I wanted to spend an entire day there, but could not. May
be will try next time.

But if you are in Bangalore its a MUST VISIT.

A paradise and candy shop for bibliophiles!!

Saurav is planning a visit to Bangalore just for Blossoms!!

[Blossoms photos by Tanu, please get some shots from the inside!!]

Other Candy shops:


http://me-damitr.blogspot.com/2009/05/candy-shops-for-bibliophiles-3.html
http://me-damitr.blogspot.com/2009/05/candy-shops-for-bibliophiles-2.html
http://me-damitr.blogspot.com/2009/05/candy-lanes-for-bibliophiles-1.html

For actual blossoms

http://me-damitr.blogspot.com/2008/05/summer-and-spring-special.html

Candy Shops for Bibliophiles 2

After looking at the bookshops in the heart of India we now turn to the second chapter in this series. The Oxford of the East. Pune [पुणे].

Pune has a large student population. The are some very good colleges in Pune. Apart from the standard colleges, there are a large number of courses being offerred by different institutions. Academically speaking I am a product of Pune. Both my alma mater are here. The first one being grand old Fergusson College and then the Department of Physics at the University of Pune. Coming to Pune from Nagpur was a transitive phase for me.

Well here I experienced lot of things which I would not have had, had I been not here. Anyways coming back to the main issue. Since Pune has a large student population, there are a large number of bookshops, publishers to support them.

The most famous area is the Appa Balwant Chowk [अप्पा बळवंत चौक] , popularly known as ABC. This area is in the heart of Old City. The area around ABC is literally overflowing with old and new book shops. But alas most of the books that you get here are the standard ones, Nirali, VBD, Manali types. But anyways, this is what most of the students are looking for. And also you can sell your old books here. With some booksellers there is a library system available, you can get about 50% money back when you return the books after you have used them. Only rarely you will stumble across books which do not form a part of any standard syllabus. You can bargain here.
Open throughout the day.

But apart from this there are a few other sellers which I want to tell you about. They are Mr. Prabhakar and Co. Major chunk of my own collection comes from them. These booksellers do not have a permanent shop as such but are basically street vendors. They sit at the Deccan end of the Sambhaji Bridge [संभाजी पुल ], also known as the Lakdi Pul [लकड़ी पुल ]. Be careful not to take your two wheeler on this bridge, this only a three and more wheeler bridge!

Mr. Prabhakar with his road side stall, at Deccan End of Sambhaji Bridge.

Their shop is not open throughout the day but only in the evenings. Just near sundown they get their books and start displaying them along side the footpath.

Now if you are a true book-lover this is the time to get the books. Keep an eye out for the books that they are taking out of their bags. As soon as you find something interesting keep it aside. That is the strategy that I had adopted when I was in the town. I have myself got quite a few good books from them. I hope you too, along with a lot of Mir/Russian titles. They are open all days of the week in the evenings till about 8:30 pm.

If you are a regular they may also keep some books in reserve for you, as they did for me. Also over a time they knew what kinds of books I was after, and as soon as I appeared they showed me those ones. The books are reasonably priced, most of the times I did not have to bargain. So much for it. Try them out and I hope you won’t be disappointed.

Apart from these there are few proper bookshops in Pune which you can visit.
They are:

International Book Store, Deccan Gymkhana, just opposite to Mr. Prabhakar.
They have some good sections on technical books, literature, and humanities. Also there is an annual sale, in which many books are sold very cheaply, so keep an eye out for that. 10-15% discount on the list price. Legend 1 in the map.

Popular Book Shop, Deccan Gymkhana, along the same side of the road as International. As the name suggests mostly popular books, the kind of ones which you will get in Crossword. But worth a visit. 15 % discount on the list price, but no discount if you pay by card. [Legend 2 in the map.]

Just around the corner from Popular Book Shop is the famous Good Luck Restaurant, one of the few Irani Cafes left in the city. Don’t forget to have some mouthwatering delicacies there. Do try Bun-Maska there! [Legend 4 in the map]

Universal Book Stores, Kelkar Road
As soon as you leave the Z Bridge coming from Deccan take a left turn, and if you go straight for about 50 meters, you will find Universal Book Stores on the right hand side of the road. This is _the_ technical book store around. You can get almost all books in print here. Plus upto 20% discount on the list price. Here is where I first saw Gravitation by Misner, Wheeler and Thorne in a shop.[Legend 3 in the map.]

Finally, Manney’s Book Store in Clover Centre, Camp. This is the most comprehensive of them all. You get books on all subjects under the sun. And they have a huge collection of them. Perfect combination of quality as well as quantity. Upper floor is for technical books. Just to look around the complete shop, will take quite some time. You DON’T get any discount. Pay as per the list price, but a must visit.

PS: Just next to Manney’s is The Place, one of the better joints for sizzlers in the city, so after a long shopping at Manney’s treat yourself with beers and sizzlers here.

Photos of other sites along with maps will be added soon.

Of Bibliophilia…



Well the other day while surfing the net I found some thing about me. Something about the things that I do has been so clearly defined,I never even wondered that there could be people who have defined and categorised terms like this one.

See this and you will understand. [Or is it this?]
This is one attribute that I certainly have. Collecting and reading books is a passion that I nurtured from my childhood. The ones that I had and read in my childhood were the comics. I read a whole lot of them, covering entire series. So when I went to collect `old’ comics at the Sita Bardi old book sellers, I did got interested in the other books they were selling. So I started buying them also. Initially the budgets were very low, so….
The major ones that I brought in this time were the Russian published Mir titles. I collected a lot over the years and they form one of the most prized collections that I have.
When I shifted to Pune visiting the Deccan `bridge’ became almost a ritual. Almost all the books I acquired during my stay in Pune were brought from Mr. Prabhakar and co. I don’t even have a photo of these guys, maybe next time I go, I will get one…


Update: This is the photo of Mr. Prabhakar that I took in the last trip..

I became one of the regulars there. And so were others….
Also another incident happened in Pune, which really made me in this regard. Me and Samir went to a certain prestigious library, where we were told by the librarian “We don’t need people like you in our library.” Well this really changed my attitude towards possession of books. Books are the key to the code of that knowledge, why it should not be open to all in a free society…
Ebooks are going to change this. You don’t loose an e-book when you give it to someone.
There is another thing that is a bit strange which has happened with me many times. It is cannot be certainly be put in rational sense. The idea that I have is that books call me! Yes you read it right. I many times feel incredibly attracted towards a book when I see it. I mean,  I feel that I have to have this book, there is no compromise….  I don’t know how to explain this, but the books that I have got by this `intuition’ have proved to be immensely useful to me one way or the other. They have at times opened an entirely different world altogether for me.
Some of the titles that I got by this `intuition’ are Larry Collins, Dominique La Pierre – Freedom at Midnight, Douglas Hofstadter, Daniel Dennett – Mind’s I, Martin Gardner – Why’s of a  Philosophical Scrivener among others.
I did not know before that such books even exist. Let alone their content. But when I saw these books I felt this very strong `urge’ that the book is saying, “Take Me with You.” Maybe you are wondering that this guy is nuts, maybe I am but this is what I have experienced.
My life is taking me westwards, literally. Nagpur to Pune, now Pune to Mumbai. Further west is the sea, where do I go from there?
Leaving Pune among other things I had one pain of leaving `the bridge’. Because I had become addicted to go there. Even if I had less money, had no other work, I had to go there. I dunno, maybe it had become an OCD.
Also another thing that I want to tell is about what I feel when I am going through a stack of books at the book seller. I have got used to the shops that I visit frequently so that I know where to look what I want. In exhibition it is  many times much more messier, as the organizers themselves don’t know what the stock of books is. Also when I scan a set of books I look for certain features that I cannot describe, maybe it is like the irrational Logic of Scientific Discovery which Karl Popper proposes. But here again I can find books which others cannot spot.
When I came to Bombay, I became a regular at the Fort and Matunga areas. It has been quite some months since I have visited Matunga, but fort I do frequent a lot.
Each time I go I have another subject or theme  which is added in the books that I look for. The broader subjects include
Physics, Mathematics, Astronomy, Electronics, Chemistry, History, Philosophy, Art, Education, Science fiction, psychology and so on…
Also with the ebooks, this collection has been taken to altogether another dimension, now I have about 7000 e-books [and counting]. In this case maybe the bibliomaniac definition is true for me.
Try these and I hope that you won’t be disappointed
ALL CREDITS TO THE ORIGINAL UPLOADERS!!
Space [both mental and physical] really becomes a problem when you have such more books to handle than you can. Anyways it has been and I guess will be a problem for me throughout my life. But I am happy that I have this problem.
Till then wish me another book…

Old Ex Libris for me!