“I have been in the book selling business for 25 years” states a soft spoken bookseller named Vicky at the famous Kala Ghoda area in Mumbai. Originally belonging to Kolkata it was during the 1990’s that he came (like many outsiders) to the “City of dreams” with the hope of earning a decent living. Furthermore, since he has been supplying me with some wonderful international magazines such as Foreign Affairs, Foreign Policy, Sight and Sound etc for a few years now, I thought a chat with this simple bookseller would make for an interesting article. And so, here is presenting a few facts about this man and his business.
a. The basic “family background” of this bookseller at Kala Ghoda:
“I live in the Colaba area” replies Vicky when asked about his current residence. With regards to his family he commented that “He is living with his wife and two kids”. His children are studying in Dunnes Institute Primary School located at the Nathalal Parekh Marg in Colaba.
b. The “business” of this bookseller at Kala Ghoda:
“I begin my day at 9 am and end it by 9 pm” said Vicky when I asked him about the daily business schedule that he follows. He further adds that “I sell both national as well as international magazines”. He names “Business India, Economic and Political Weekly, Femina, Filmfare, and India Today” as the few national magazines that he sells. In terms of international brands he sells magazines such as Fortune, Time, The Economist, New Yorker, and Foreign Affair. Probing further, I ask Vicky about the money he makes in a day, to which he responds that on good day he usually makes only about Rs 600 while, on a bad day many a time he has to return home empty handed.
c. The “Back up business” set up by this bookseller at Kala Ghoda:
“With bookselling providing hardly any profits I had to resort to a back up business” admits Vicky frankly when I question him about his survival. I further ask him about this side or back up business he has started, to which he responds by pointing towards a stall comprising of items such wallets, folders, pouch, passport holder etc. He further adds that “Although it is doing a little better than bookselling it is still not enough to survive”. In terms of money made he states that this back up business provides a maximum of Rs 1000 and a minimum of Rs 500 a day. In addition, out of curiosity I asked him how are these magazines acquired by him especially the international brands, he responds by stating “Usually I get them from people living in South Mumbai who are usually subscribers or even shops such as Media Star help me procure them”.
d. The “reason” why the selling of books is fading fast according to this bookseller at Kala Ghoda:
“Nowadays due to the internet there are very few readers left in the city of Mumbai” said Vicky to explain why bookselling is gradually becoming a less lucrative business. He further added that “It is because of this gradual decline in book readers that I have begun to think of other options for the future”.
As my conversation with Vicky reaches its climax I ask him what alternatives he has been thinking of, to which he gives a pleasant smile and says “I have no idea at the moment but, I guess when the time is right a solution shall be found”.