It was on the insistence of a friend that I had accompanied her to this shop for the first time. It must have been in the late 1990s. She was pursuing a degree in architecture and wanted some reference books. “Aren’t these expensive?” I remember asking her. “These are but I know of a treasure house for second-hand books that doesn’t burn a hole in the pocket,” she replied. This was to be my first visit to Anil Book Corner. Over the last three decades, I have been a regular to this tiny shop nestled in the Middle Circle of Connaught Place (CP), right next to one of the city’s landmark cinema halls, Plaza (now PVR Plaza).
What often surprised me and I remember asking Founder-Owner Anil Kumar (much before he passed away in 2017) on more than one occasion was – how did he manage to accommodate thousands of books in such a limited space? And how did he find a particular book that a customer wanted from all that was there? The reply was always a quick look towards the sky. For years, Anil Book Corner (opened in 1972) has been frequented by students, designers, architects, tourists, chefs… you name a profession and they have visited this place to look for some of the unique and rare second-hand books. There is a choice of genre if you want – fiction, non-fiction, mythology, culture, arts, dictionaries, encyclopaedias, autobiographies… All available at discounted prices.
Discovering this shop was a huge relief for the book lover in me as going to Darya Ganj, which then hosted the biggest second-hand books’ market on Sundays, was a task I indulged in grudgingly – reaching the place and buying a book while jostling amid scores of buyers who would swoop down here, was no mean job.
But things have changed since then. Today, you don’t need to head to Mahila Haat near Delhi Gate Metro Station on Asaf Ali Road (where Darya Ganj market has moved) or visit CP even. The city has quite a few such shops – newly sprung up or been in existence for decades but unbeknown to public at large. There might be one around you too. For now, we’ve listed five below:
At one of the city’s oldest bookstores, Bobby Novel Library in AL Block Market in north Delhi’s Shalimar Bagh, you get to lay hands on fictional works by renowned authors at discounted prices, sometimes even at 40 per cent of the book’s original cost. Interestingly, you can return the book once you have finished reading and half the amount is reimbursed. That’s a lucrative deal, isn’t it?
Remember reading through the Amar Chitra Katha series and Tinkle magazine as kids. If you want to have a bunch of these to revisit your growing up years, head to Jackson’s Books in the heart of the city, Pahar Ganj. Not this alone, you can lay hands on books in foreign languages – German, Japanese, Dutch, Hebrew, French and Spanish at prices as low as `100.
One of the best shops to buy second-hand books – fiction, non-fiction, self-help – for as little as `50, Gyan Deep Book Shop near Delhi University is usually thronged by students of the North Campus. The shop offers up to 30 per cent discount on second-hand books. Then there is an option of borrowing books too, for a reasonable amount that is.
For the last six decades (the shop opened in 1962), the 3L Library has been selling and lending second-hand books. One of the oldest and largest stores for second-hand novels, you can buy old novels at 50 per cent rebate while lending price depends on the cost of the book.
Located in New Sunheri Market near Sector 18 Metro Station, Libra Book Shop has loads of books that range from novels in English and Hindi to engineering and medical tutorials. The price could range anywhere between `70 and `250. But you need to be really good at bargaining to get a good deal.