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Koti bookshop owners in dire straits

Koti bookshop owners in dire straits
Highlights

Ever since the evacuation of several second-hand book stalls that dotted Koti a few years ago, the lives of the owners have started to pale. “We were forced to shift from the main road into a subway. Since then, business has dwindled,” complains Hyder, a shop owner.

We were forced to shift from the main road into a subway. Since then, business has dwindled,” complains Hyder, a shop owner. “With no space, proper ventilation, parking space for customers and no maintenance, the number of buyers has gone down alarmingly

Ever since the evacuation of several second-hand book stalls that dotted Koti a few years ago, the lives of the owners have started to pale. “We were forced to shift from the main road into a subway. Since then, business has dwindled,” complains Hyder, a shop owner. “With no space, proper ventilation, parking space for customers and no maintenance, the number of buyers has gone down alarmingly.”

It is not just because of the shift that the number of customers has reduced. Another concern of the stall owners is that a majority of youngsters are taking to e-books. Also with online shopping portals like Flipkart and Amazon selling books at half the price, the customers’ loyalties are shifting. While change is inevitable and technology is wielding its wand, the second-hand book stalls are slowly losing their charm. Owners are forced to sell books at cheap rates.

In the case of Md Faiz, a bookstall owner, he says, “This is the only job I know and I have been selling books since childhood. I do not know anything else to do. But with customers not pouring in like they used to before, I don’t know what to do.” Many shop owners attribute the shrinkage of customers to the fact that customers have begun fearing fines by the traffic police. Book stall owner Basheer explains, “There is no parking space for customers, and their vehicles are towed away by the police. Customers have stopped coming fearing challans from the police.”

Troubles for these shopkeepers don’t end with just the narrowing sales. They are one too many. The premises allocated to them reeks of muck, dirt and garbage, all of which is seldom cleaned. During the rains, the subway is flooded, and causes great inconvenience. Ramakrishna, shop owner, says that sewage from Andhra Bank flows into the subway, in spite of complaints to the municipal body there is no improvement.

“Apparently, the Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation (GHMC) is planning to renovate the subways. But even if the plan is carried out, will it give a new lease of life for us?” asks Basheer. The construction of the Metro Rail is another fear that many shop keepers hold. “We may be completely wiped once the Metro Rail comes up here,” says Faiz.

But for now shop owners have permission to sell books on footpaths on Sundays. With reducing footfalls, the advent of e-books, and the onslaught of e-portals, the second-hand book shops of Koti are facing a bleak future.

By:Chand Ahmed

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