Established in 1844 Higginbothams book store in Mount Road, Madras (Chennai) is India’s oldest bookstore that’s still open. I have fond childhood memories of the store opposite to LIC building, which was their head office, where often my father used to take me in 1980s. Not to buy books but to deliver stocks from our publication (LIFCO), while my dad was busy with the work at hand, I will have few hours to roam around the store, visiting every aisle and browsing through the books. The staff in ground floor used to be friendly as they knew me, but I was intimidated to go to first floor where I suppose the costlier and college text books were kept and the staff found it strange for a young boy to be loafing there. Over the decades after Landmark, Crossword and Flipkart came it became less and less I went to Higginbothams.
Seeing a news about year-end sale in Higginbothams, this week I went to the store with my son and wife. It was nostalgic experience. No online bookstore can replace the charm and emotions that browsing through hundreds of books in a physical store can bring to you.
While inside the Anna Salai store, I remembered another iconic book store of theirs in Ooty, which I had a chance to go few months back while on a trip to Coonoor.