Thursday, September 6, 2012

India # 3 Ravi the Bookseller

Book junkies must be the same all over the world, it seems, and in a basement shop along a busy tourist thoroughfare in Bangalore, Raji Mendez exhibits all the signs:  every inch of his shop crammed with books, books on the floor, books catalogued by the Dewey-Mendez system.  Ask and he shall find.  Anything on Ayurvedic medicine, my companion wants to know?  Of course.  I nab “The Argumentative Indian” by Amartya Sen, a great soul and scholar, which I have little time to read but want to possess anyway. I pass on the eighth edition of “Great Golf Courses of California.”
“You can always leave your books with me when you go,” Raji says, which makes perfect sense after he has cut the posted price in half without either of us asking.  He’s got the broken glasses and the book mania excitement in the eye and can’t wait to paw through the next bulk shipment of books from America where his quick eye finds first editions. 
“We need non-fiction,” he wants us to know. But what he really needs is to postpone the imminent invasion of Amazon and the rapid propagation of e-readers.  The Indian government is promoting $40 versions and provides them free to the right readers, he says.  “But we’ll find a way to survive.  After all, I don’t need much,” Raji says as we scoot out to dinner.  Spoken like a true bookie:  all he needs is books.   

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