A bookseller retires

Ram Guha writes one of the very moving tributes to Mr. T S Shanbagh of Premier Bookshop in Bangalore (which, I probably visited only once, and I now forget to get which book):

Fortunately, I was not due to travel anywhere in the fortnight after I heard the news. I went to Premier the next day, to find the owner almost as stoic as I had been told he would be. He rehearsed his reasons for retirement, but when I found a book to buy (Simon Winchester’s essay collection, Outposts) he said, with some emotion: “I will not let you pay for this.” When he insisted, I asked only that he inscribe the book for me.

When I went back the next day, Mr. Shanbhag had regained his composure. I bought some books and paid for them, and he made me sign some copies of a book I had written. He had, he said, a week more to run, before he put down his shutters and put himself in the hands of the eye surgeon. By now, word of his closure had spread. Every day the number of visitors grew. The great mound in the middle of the shop became shorter and slimmer. The top layers on the side-shelves were peeled off by paying customers, to reveal books published in the 1980s and before, that had lain buried, unseen and unsold.

Take a look!


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