Wednesday, September 09, 2015

The Haul at the Best Books Sale

Not content selling their wares on the pavements of Abids every Sunday, and also in their brick and mortar store the second hand book sellers of Hyderabad hold ‘Exhibition-cum-Sale’ of their books now and then. Best Books Centre is the biggest secondhand bookstore chain with three branches in Hyderabad. They usually hold a big sale twice a year usually at the YMCA in Secunderabad. I look forward to it eagerly but last year they did not hold the sale so I was disappointed. Finally, sometime last month I learnt that they were having a sale starting from the first of September till the twelfth. I was there on the first day itself.
The first book I found was ‘Do You Suppose It’s the East Wind’ edited by Mohd Umar Memon that I got for ninety five rupees. This collection of short stories by Pakistani writers has stories by Sadat Hasan Manto, Abdullah Hussein, Ikramullah and other writers I haven’t read about it. I bought it because it was a Penguin and also because I love reading short stories. The next find was a copy of ‘A Burnt-Out Case’ by Graham Greene that also was priced at ninety five rupees. I had been looking for this book since a long time and I felt glad I found it at last. This is one reason why I look forward to such a book sale.
The next title I found was another book that I missed buying when I first saw it a couple of years ago at another second hand book store. I picked up ‘The Sense of An Ending’ by Julian Barnes the moment I spotted it. This book was slimmer than the other two books I found earlier but it was priced higher at a hundred and twenty five rupees.
When I read the press release about this sale I was dismayed to find that there would be books being sold by the kilo. Somehow I do not like the idea of books being sold by weight because each book is different unlike potatoes or onions and hence has its own price. However, I was curious what I would find in the shelves of books being sold by weight. I was quite surprised to find a hardcover copy of ‘Education of a Wandering Man’ by Louis L’Amour. I already have a paperback copy of this memoir by this famous writer of Westerns but I couldn’t resist picking up the hardcover copy. This book alone weighed at least half a kilo I felt and since the minimum weight of the books you buy had to be a kilo I looked around for other titles to add to the scale.
Sometime I had picked up a copy of ‘Tumbleweed’ a book by Janwillem van de Wetering which turned out to be a fantastic crime fiction read. As recently as August I found another title by van de Wetering “Hard Rain’ at Abids so I did not hesitate when I came across ‘The Japanese Corpse.’ I was surprised when I saw ‘Evening Games’ Alberto Manguel in the shelf of books being sold by weight. It was a Penguin title and this was a collection of short stories which could have been sold for a higher price. But I was glad to find it and these three books weighed a kilo and a quarter which means I got these three titles for a hundred rupees at the rate of eighty rupees a kilo.
I went once again a day later and found a nice copy of ‘Avarana’ by SL Bhyrappa the famous Kannada writer. It was quite a tome but I realized I would never find an English translation of any work by SL Bhyrappa so I decided to buy it even though the price was 195 rupees. I resolved that I would not buy any more but would just look around. It was a kind of mistake looking around because I found another book I had to buy. I found an enormous volume which turned out to be ‘The Best of Quest’ that I discovered was a mine of essays, stories, and poems by some of the best names in Indian English writers of an earlier generation. When I saw one of the stories was by Arun Joshi I decided to buy it even though the price was 395 rupees. It was a collection I did not want to miss so in it went into my bag. Then I saw yet another book that I told myself that I simply had to buy for the simple reason that it was a book by Alice Munro. I already have a copy of ‘Open Secrets’ by Alice Munro but I decided to buy another copy.
The sale is on until the end of this week and I do not know how many more books I will buy if I go again apart from the nine titles I had picked up in my two visits.

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