Although I haven’t lived in India for a while, and have not been to Bangalore for over 4 years, my favorite bookshop in the world is still Premier on Church Street off M.G. Road, in Bangalore.
It doesn’t look like reader-friendly ground. No coffee or squashy couches–in fact, there’s little standing room. Unless you’re a Size 0, you have to scuttle crab-fashion between the shelves, whose contents are stacked vertically. Extracting a book without causing the pile to keel over necessitates a speculum. It’s not a place to visit if you suffer from claustrophobia or dust allergies–or an addiction to Real Simple.
But. But. But. The owner loves books. He discounts everything at least 10% under the marked price, and more if he likes your style. Based on the stack currently absorbing the sweat of your armpits (baskets to carry books? dream on…), he recommends other titles you might like. There’s an insane variety of titles packed in this tiny space, but the owner knows where each one of his books is. There’s also an agile salesman who leaps on top of shelves to pull down the book that caught your eye.
The place has nothing but books–no CDs, cards, or gift wrap. You’re mostly in the company of serious bibliophiles who are content to spend their earnings on books instead of on the newest Berry-Pod plastic currently making the rounds in techie Bangalore.
Landmark in Chennai once owned my heart, but we parted ways when it re-engineered itself into a Claire’s Accesories, with books. Please don’t change, Premier!