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Bestseller attracts book lovers across Kashmir
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Bestseller attracts book lovers across Kashmir

Post by Insha Latief Khan on Wednesday, November 9, 2022

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From offering heavy discounts to monthly giveaways, one of the oldest bookstores in Srinagar, Bestseller, is a major attraction among the book lovers across Kashmir.
To create a reading culture among the younger generation, the bookstore offers sales on the best-selling books.
The out-of-box ideas of Sani Yasnain, who runs the store has not only preserved the old bookstore but has also lured the youth towards the book reading culture.
He pursued Masters in Business Administration from Pune and worked sometime in a multinational company, Loreal. After coming back to Kashmir, he took up the store and gave it a new face.
Established in 1985, the store located at Lal Chowk, Srinagar was initially run by his father, Sanaullah. Earlier, the store had just a collection of Urdu and Kashmiri books from local authors and Islamic literature that would cater to a particular section of readers only.
Since Sani took over the bookstore in 2016, he introduced classics and contemporary fiction, non-fiction, literature and motivational books to feed the book lovers’ soul and to keep up with the changing trends and tastes of bibliophiles.
Diving into the sea of books with no knowledge was not a cake walk for him. Social media being one of the greatest tools these days was no less than a help for Sani. He took to social media and started taking insights from people about books and authors, hence enhancing his vision about the upliftment of the store.
“Taking help from Instagram, Facebook and Whatsapp, I asked people about the books they would like to read. This helped me understand a lot about people’s taste in books. I researched about the books after taking the inputs from people and started getting those books in store,” he added.
The books available in the store are rare and are available at a very discounted rate. “We get a lot of books from the UK as well which consist of many rare to find books. Those books are sold at a very high price on any international book selling website but we sell those books at Rs 300 to Rs. 500,” he said.
Also, the current bestselling and popular books are sold at discounted rates at the store.
“We give a 15% discount on the books. We have another lot of books that are sold starting from Rs. 150 to Rs. 500,” he further said.
He found that philosophical and motivational books are mostly liked by the young readers.
Talking about the authors, he said that not only the authors of yesteryears but the new and young authors are also liked by people here. “Every person has a different taste in books. The store has books of all genres and authors,” he added.
The small bookstore has endured the test of times and stood against the pressure of unfavorable situations while holding the charm of written word and preserving the musty smell of the old books.
“We have seen a lot of things happening around but we have survived every jolt. It does cost us financially but when the situation improves, people come out and sales drastically go up,” the owner explained.
The long period of lockdown after abrogation of article 370 followed by the COVID pandemic led people to spend much of the time inside. The lockdown affected the business establishments and also forced people to stay indoors which turned many to the books.
During COVID pandemic, the bookstore switched to home delivery to the customers living in green zones, hence adding a bit of relief to the readers.
“We used to get a lot of texts from people that they wanted certain books because they were bored while being locked up at home. We provided books at their doorstep, though the orders used to be very less,” he added.
The Instagram handle of the bookstore with the name, Downtownbook Str caters to the book request of the people.
Sani who himself is an avid Urdu literature reader believes that even though the youth is inclined towards books, yet the reading culture is diminishing because of the high price of the books, which students find difficult to afford.
Sani believes, “Students not reading the books would not be a reason for the reading culture to die. It’s because the price of books has gone up from some years which doesn’t let students afford the books.”
He further said that even though the gadgets have eased lives but when it comes to reading, a hardcopy is still preferred over the PDFs.
“The physical appearance of the book and the feel it offers is different from the one you can get from soft copies. Many customers say that when they go inside a library or a bookstore, it gives them good vibes. In smart phones or laptops, you can have a lot of free books downloaded but you still won’t feel like reading because it doesn’t offer you that feeling,” he explained.
He believes that the books available at discounted rates can be purchased even by the students and can bring them back towards the reading culture.
In future, his plans are to open another wing in South Kashmir as he feels the reading culture is more there. Apart from that the owner intends to throw open a reading room like setup in coming years, giving the readers an ambience to read.
Sani has been out of Kashmir for a good time where he was able to witness parents encouraging kids for parallel activities. He said, “Social media is consuming much of the time. Reading and prayers can lead to a disciplined society. We should promote sports in kids. Parents should take their kids to sports and other activities and encourage them.”
He believes that one should encourage kids and the youth towards a healthier lifestyle by feeding them with the reading culture that once would prevail.
Talking about the bookstore, he said, “Our monthly giveaway contest and best-selling books at sales are getting good response but there is a lot more in store.”

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