TheCalmDev (Dev J Haldar)

ravings, rantings and ramblings

The Book Bandits

The sight of a huge human train, lining the length of the display glass in the largest McGrudy’s bookstore in Dubai was surely not the most exciting. Although for one reason it was exciting. It was probably the only time when I witnessed so many book-lovers come out in full force to make the most of the warehouse sale. Books that were retailed for AED 100 and more for going for as little as AED 10! Pass on the smelling-salts, please.

 First of all, buying a book (here) is a bit of an elitist pastime. There are more chances of sighting Tom Cruise than have 20 book lovers in one book store. And usually, the only movement witnessed is in the magazine section. The rest of the store is a haven for an afternoon snooze.

 Then again, I say elitist pastime as buying coffee table books is fashionable. It is a statement like the curtains or cushions, perhaps. Somebody I know, has a coffee table book that is still in its original cellophane covering. What is the point of the book collecting dust, I was told. However I did not venture to explain what a dust jacket on a coffee table book is for. 

 So, there is a mad scramble for books as if they were going out of fashion tomorrow. You could say that again! Honestly, I kept looking at the melee of buyers than the books. It is always good to see how your consumers look like. Consumers looking for biographies of Richard Branson or annoyed why a certain ‘non-sale’ book is not on sale. All around the people-sea, it was high energy. There was a certain irregular rhythm watching droves of people cocking their necks both ways as they scrutinised titles. Some already have their hands full, while ladies were lugging their loot in trolleys. Kids were picking out their favourite books and squatting on the floor to browse through school stationery.

My friend and I decided to stick together and check out as much as we could. There were boxes stashed on the floor like treasure chests that had books of all sorts. My eternal quest for yet another good book on ancient Egyptian history was futile. Some books still hold their own, I guess. But on sale were Barrack Obama, Cheryl Cole, Katie Price and Andrew Flintoff. Funnily enough, nobody wanted a piece of Cheryl Cole, Katie Price or Freddie Flintoff even when they were marked for AED 10! Recession must have hit hard! 

Book buying styles intrigued me. There are the usual, old school lovers. When they pick a book up, they flip it and read the back page. After that, they pour over the foreword or preface and if it truly is attention grabbing, does the book find place in the shopping trolley. When in the presence of a book, they are oblivious to their surroundings. 

Then there are the wannabes. First they discreetly scan their surroundings. Then they take a random book out and strain their eyes hard on the cover or back cover, probably because they have a pure-bred book lover standing beside them, and more often than not, a member of the opposite gender. The wannabes knit their brow and look as authentic as possible for they don’t want anybody to think any less of them. When the book lover passes on by, the wannabe breaks his gaze and keeps the book back on the rack.  

The third category would be what I call collectors. They are here to ‘collect’ books. It doesn’t matter who the writer is, the style, the genre, the timeline, the storyline or anything else. If it is a good cover, it must BE a good book. Wasn’t this why some wise guy said, “Never judge a book by its cover”?

Wait! Let’s take a breather here. Maybe this warehouse book sale is all a hit because it is just another sale. Sorry, love!

 Friday, 29 October 2010


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This entry was posted on October 29, 2010 by in Old Chronicles and tagged , , .
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