November 25, 2022

Bookstores in Lahore and Lyallpur: Privileging home delivery, residents of Ludhiana abandon trips to bookstores

After making the long and arduous journeys from Lahore and Lyallpur – now Faizalabad – to establish successful businesses in the city, two of Ludhiana’s oldest books are suddenly struggling to bridge the gap between their dusty shelves and their customers’ doors. . .’

Named after the towns where they were founded, the Lahore Book Shop and Lyall Book Shop are losing favor with customers – who are increasingly opting for one-day home deliveries from online retailers and online collections. assorted line.

In the digital age, where social media has taken up a large chunk of people’s time, the same is hardly surprising. The two once frequented spots have resorted to self-sufficiency through commercial and legacy network editing.

Lahore Book Shop, which was founded in 1940 by Jiwan Singh on Nisbat Road in Lahore, is now located near Ludhiana’s Society Cinema. Lyall Bookstore, on the other hand, moved postcodes from Lyallpur to Ludhiana in 1950, when founder Lala Sunder Das decided to move to the current location of Chaura Bazar after running the shop from its original location for 15 years old.

Balwan Singh, who works at Lyall Book Shop, which has branches in Bhopal, Chandigarh and New Delhi, says: “Young people are all ready to go abroad now and many young people are coming to buy books for IELTS, but no one has any interest in reading. other books.

Roughly, he says, attendance is down to a measly 10% of what it was about 10 to 15 years ago.

“Most people who come to buy motivational and business books negotiate with us by quoting cheaper rates online. There are a lot of books that are pirated and we cannot compete with them,” says Balwan, before reversing the losses after being hit by the Covid-19 pandemic which forced the shop to close for a year.Attendance, he says, has fallen further since colleges and universities moved online.

“Now some parents bring their children to the store to spark their interest in books, but it’s a difficult task,” he quips.

Asked about the decline of the reading culture, Gurmmanat Singh, the current owner of the Lahore bookstore, says: “It all started with the advent of television as a source of entertainment, then came social media and the internet. , which led to the opening of various sources of knowledge outside of books.

In addition to selling books, Lahore Book Shop has been involved in the publishing business since its inception and has produced almost 15,000 titles ranging from non-fiction, fiction, religious and coffee table books in English and punjabi.

It has published the works of some of Punjab’s most beloved authors in the form of Shiv Kumar Batalvi, Amrita Pritam, Professor Mohan Singh and Sant Singh Sekhon as well as contemporary names Khushwant Singh, Daman Kaur, Montek Singh Ahluwalia, Captain Amarinder Singh.

Founder Jiwan Singh was a household name in literary circles in pre-partitioned Punjab and printed a monthly magazine for Indian soldiers fighting in the World War.

“We were able to withstand the conditions thanks to our dedication and vision. As a publisher, we are connected to 200 suppliers and many institutions,” he adds.

Pushed into a corner by online retailers initially, the bookstore decided not to give up any more space and launched its own website – which is attracting considerable orders from rural areas and NRIs.

Lyal Book Shop founder Lala Sunder Das, meanwhile, was known for his patronage of students and giving out free reading materials. Padma Vibhushan, retired IAS officer NN Vohra, was among those welcomed into the store with free books as a student.

In 1965, Lyal Book Shop also started its own publishing house under the name Kalyani Publishers, which publishes textbooks and has over 3,000 titles.

While Lahore Book Shop continues to be best known for its collection on traditional Punjabi literature and history, Lyall Book Shop has carved out a place for itself in English content. Their book sales may have taken a hit in recent years, but constant efforts to reinvent themselves have kept the old war horses alive in the race.