Friday, February 23, 2007

The Book Seller

It is quite a humbling experience for people like me, who write a few blogs on a free site and consider themselves writers, to see those who are trying to sell their own books at the Kolkata Book Fair. “I’m the author, I’m the publisher and the printer, and I’m the seller too,” one of them told me, “Just Rs. 10 for a book full of funny children’s stories sir. Won’t you take it? Ok, give Rs. 5 then.” A look at his tattered clothes leaves no doubt as to how his business is running. Yet he feels the urge to write funny stories and sell them as books.

While I lead a comfortable life and have the option of not caring whether anybody reads my blog or not, this man has to survive by selling his creations. And I’m sure his writings are not inferior to those of many authors who don’t write that well but just got a lucky break.

What keeps him going?


  1. We used to see simillar guy in Kharagpur. He will come to our halls and will sell story books.
    Atleast his self-respect is still alive. He is doing something to survive than begging.

  2. This is what love is all about. I am sure most of his relatives curse him for not earning enough but his love for writing is unwavered. And I think it remains unwavered mainly because the object of his love doesn’t change in character over years although it’s performance is poor i.e. it does not deliver the goodies namely money. Whereas, mostly with human beings love wavers because the object of love changes in character may be not in performance. That is why we feel a tug at our heart to see these writers because that is how we pay respect to the concept of ‘true love’. This ‘true love’ keeps him going.

  3. I didnt know people sell books like that. Learnt a new thing from your post.

  4. His passion for writing keeps him going!

    This is a lovely post. Very much touching!!

  5. did you buy his book?

    i've been to the kolkata book fair only once in my life, when i was still in school, and i still remember it with awe.

  6. @abhijit: Yes, that's a very good thing actually.

    @anonymous: Beautifully said. And here at the Book Fair you will find all kinds of people pursuing their true loves: dead ideologies, archaic topics that nobody wants to buy. Yet they try to sell those books year after year.

    @shreemoyee: Yes, they do. Another person was shouting (in Bengali)"Costs Rs.2. Read for 20 minutes, laugh for half an hour!"

    @abhijit: Thanks for encouragement.

    @bidi-k: Unfortunately, I didn't buy his book. I was in a hurry and didn't stop, but later I wished I had. I didn't meet that particular person again.
    I spent my school life in Allahabad so I saw the Kolkata Book Fair only after I grew up. I simply love that event.

  7. My experience as a lil mag push seller@Calcutta Bookfair taught me that mashimas(age-group 35-50) are voracious readers of Bengali poetry. I sold atleast 50+ copies to them. Then there was one gentleman who had only Rs. 10 with him and imagine he spent 50% of that to buy our mag.

    The real Calcutta Bookfair is beyond the A/C bookstalls of reputed publication house. It's a place where the writer meets the reader soul-to-soul. Thanks a lot for bringing back those memories.

  8. @bishu: And thanks for sharing your experiences!

  9. Perhaps the shortest among ur blogs.... but nevertheless a thought provoking one!!
    I wud hav loved 2 meet such a guy and sit with him and go through his book.

  10. well written !!
    If he is doing what he loves he is satisfied in someways. So many people have money but dont do what they really wish to do.

    Nice thoughts ...

  11. really a touchy one... every incidents make me feel how fortunate I m than also so many complaints to make...a very good narration...keep it up

  12. Hey Sugata!!!! Nice is link to a different experience of the bookfair.....