A Bittersweet Goodbye to the Iconic Strand Book Stall in Mumbai

2 min read
Strand Book Stall at PM Road. 

One of Bombay’s iconic bookstores, the Strand Book Stall, will down its shutters to never open them again to book lovers on 28 February. Financial losses reportedly forced them into shutting shop.

The Strand Book Stall began as a two-table stall in Colaba, 70 years ago, outside the Strand Cinema. Over the years, it expanded and moved to PM Road in 1956, but it retained the name.

The place had a special appeal to it – the books - a mix of bestsellers and rare titles were always available at discounted rates. Customers were drawn to the diverse book collection, carefully curated by its late owner, Padmashree TN Shanbhag.

Author Khushwant Singh had once termed the Strand as the only “personal bookshop” in India.

We took a stroll down memory lane and walked into the Strand Book Stall with an aching heart. With most of the books are swiftly flying off the shelves after the news and with no space to step into the store considering the patrons thronging the store for one last time, the iconic store seems to be getting a farewell it deserves.

  • 01/09
    Strand Book Stall is unusually packed. (Photo: Almas Khateeb)
    Strand Book Stall is unusually packed. 
  • 02/09
    The store’s patrons.(Photo: Almas Khateeb)
    The store’s patrons.
  • 03/09
    The last of the books. (Photo: Almas Khateeb)
    The last of the books. 
  • 04/09
    A young patron connects with someone elderly via a video call to bid adieu to the store. (Photo: Almas Khateeb)
    A young patron connects with someone elderly via a video call to bid adieu to the store. 
  • 05/09
    Strand always challenged us with tough choices. (Photo: Almas Khateeb)
    Strand always challenged us with tough choices. 
  • 06/09
    The upstairs section of the bookstore. (Photo: Almas Khateeb)
    The upstairs section of the bookstore. 
  • 07/09
    A book haven. (Photo: Almas Khateeb)
    A book haven. 
  • 08/09
    Most books have been sold. (Photo: Almas Khateeb)
    Most books have been sold. 
  • 09/09
    An old patron makes his way to the store. (Photo: Almas Khateeb)
    An old patron makes his way to the store. 

After his death in 2009, his daughter Vidya Virkar and son Arun took over the reins of the book store.

“Around the world, bookstores are shutting down because people prefer to buy books online. The business has been ailing for a while, and we tried what we could to keep it going, but the cultural landscape has changed. There’s not much we can do about that, and so we decided that it’s time to let go,”
Vidya told The Indian Express on 22 February.

The demise of the book store has bibliophiles all over the city mourning.

(The Quint, in association with BitGiving, has launched a crowdfunding campaign for an 8-month-old who was raped in Delhi on 28 January 2018. The baby girl, who we will refer to as 'Chhutki', was allegedly raped by her 28-year-old cousin when her parents were away. She has been discharged from AIIMS hospital after undergoing three surgeries, but needs more medical treatment in order to heal completely. Her parents hail from a low-income group and have stopped going to work so that they can take care of the baby. You can help cover Chhutki's medical expenses and secure her future. Every little bit counts. Click here to donate.)

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