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Books and the brew

There's an interesting choice of books at the newly opened Corner Bookstore in Barista

Pic. by V. Ganesan

IN THE romantic comedy "Notting Hill," a love story blooms at a neighbourhood bookstore in London. A happening Hollywood actress Anna Scott, who is travelling incommunicado, walks into the bookstore and finds herself attracted to its owner William Thacker. A successful actress falling for the owner of a neighbourhood bookstore may be unusual. But neighbourhood bookstores are by no means unusual, that is, if you are living in London. Or in New York. And now that holds good for some Indian cities as well.

Only two years ago, most of the Indian cities drew a pathetic blank on neighbourhood bookstores. But the scene has been changing since, with a few such bookstores finding their way into urban neighbourhoods. But it is only in the last six months or so that the concept has been really gaining ground. In Delhi, Bangalore, Mumbai, Pune, Indore, Jaipur and finally in Chennai.

The move by Corner Bookstore Company (CBC), formed in October 2003, to set up a chain of small-format neighbourhood bookstores across the country has ensured that they formed part of some of the storefronts in Chennai too. The other day N. Ram, Editor-in-Chief, The Hindu, inaugurated a Corner Bookstore at the Barista outlet on Khader Nawaz Khan Road. On the same day, another Corner Bookstore was opened at the T. Nagar Barista. These bookstores are the outcome of an agreement between CBC and Barista Coffee Company that the latter would reserve 100 to 150 sq. ft. of space for books in 30 of its outlets.

Impressive range

Such a small space at the Barista outlet on Khader Nawaz Khan Road, accommodates an impressive variety of books. Children's books, travelogues, self-help books, fiction, current affair books and a range of glossy foreign magazines are among the knowledge quenchers that sit elbow to elbow in this bookstore.

Aalok Wadhwa, chief executive officer, CBC, said with such bookstores `round the corner,' bibliophiles need not drive through `killing traffic' and `hopelessly look for' parking space. Now they can shop for books with hardly any hassle and at their own pace.

If having a cuppa in a ritzy coffee outlet is a good ending to a day, picking up a book or two while doing so must make it perfect.

PRINCE FREDERICK

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