All book aficionados don’t have to be told either about the Strand Book Stall or the Strand Book Festival which is held in January every year at the Sunderbai Hall at New Marine Lines (walking distance from Churchgate Station).
If you go to the Festival, you will run into the Shanbhag family who own the store, Mrs. and Mr. Shanbhag and their daughter Vidya Virkar who is based in Bangalore and runs four Strand Book shops there. (One near M. G. Road on Dickenson Road, two in Infosys and one at Wipro)
Coming back to the Strand Book Stall, it all started when Mr. T. N. Shanbhag (recipient of the Padmashri in 2003) put up a little stall which sold books at a discount. It was located near the the erstwhile Strand Cinema (thus the name) in Colaba and opened on November 20, 1949 and was moved in 1954 to it's present location. Mr. Shanbhag was telling me all this and added that he was the first one in the world to sell a book at a discount (that too of 20%)
At the Festival, you will be able to pick up books at a huge discount (40% to 80%) and you can browse around through rows and rows of books neatly stacked in different sections of Health, Cookery, Science, Management/Business, Self-Help, Reference, Art and Architecture, Literature, Fiction, Design, Photography, a huge Children’s section, a Penguin Books section and Strand Specials. Strand Specials had varied books from In The Line Of the Fire – Parvez Musharraf’s autobiography at Rs 675 to a Coffee table book on The Parsis by Sooni Taraporewala and many others. The Classic section had a 50% off sign. As the exhibition had just begun, there were not too many people but go there in the evenings or on the weekends and the hall is filled with book lovers jostling around to get hold of their favorite book at a huge discount. Every city has a unique book store which is small but has a soul. Strand is not only Mumbai’s book store with a soul but also an institution by itself and if you have never been there, you have missed something. So rush to the Strand Book Festival which is on from January 18 to February 4, 2007(10 am to 8 pm) and if you still cant make it, drop into the Strand Book Stall at P.M. Road in Fort and browse around for your favorite book, order them if they are not available and leave with a feeling of having been to a book store with a soul.