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Reserved for life in Goa…

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A new bookstore in Goa’s Panjim celebrates the joy of picture books and second-hand books.
This bookstore, in Panjim of Goa, is a new bookstore with a difference. It has a section where you can buy books and another that serves as a reading room.
Image: Courtesy of this bookstore.

Once upon a time, during America’s Great Depression, female librarians traveled on horseback and on mules carrying books through remote areas of Kentucky. This library of pack horses or “women of the book” traveled far and wide to serve families and schools, providing reading lessons and reading in Appalachia. Their story is immortalized in the 2008 children’s book, This woman delivers, by Heather Hensen. Several years later, an avid reader sitting in Goa decided to turn to this book for inspiration by naming her bookstore.

between pages

And so, This library was born in 2022. The bookstore was the highlight of Barkha Sharda and Kumar Chitrang’s year doing pop-ups, attending markets and events, and promoting picture books and books. opportunity. Tucked away at the back of a residential building in a shady Altinho lane, the bookstore is felt with a cat logo. A black cat with a pink nose looks curiously at passers-by. The couple love and have cats, and hope to one day make them residents of the store. For now, the only animals are in the picture books.

This bookstore in goa
Barkha Sharda and Kumar Chitrang’s That Book Store in Goa offers (mostly) children’s books and a few graphic novels. Image: Courtesy of this bookstore.

It was the birth of their son in 2019 that proved to be the catalyst for Sharda to fulfill her dream of opening a bookstore. The former Moira Learning Center educator gave up her job to be home, and her desire to provide her son with quality children’s books beyond bestsellers and white authors compelled her to also working to preserve books for others. “I’ve always wanted to open a bookstore, but I never thought I could,” says Sharda. In the pandemic, the idea took shape.

A page turner

Last October, they made their first pop-up at Dasya Family Flea in Porvorim. Then Hilltop Market came calling and pretty soon they were doing at least three markets/pop-ups a week. Gradually, an Instagram page was created and a WhatsApp group – through which they would send curated book lists to those interested. Sales picked up through word of mouth. “Being in these markets has helped us connect with many interested people,” Sharda adds.

Handpicked books at this bookstore
This bookstore started with picture books. Each book is handpicked and priced below MRP. Image: Courtesy of this bookstore.

A physical space was still under construction. In August, the right place fell on them. “The space was just enough. And no matter how many visitors, there wouldn’t be too much noise,” she explains. This bookstore occupies a large room, neatly divided into two parts: one for books to buy and a reading section.

The books are organized, but not in the usual way: the shelves contain “books with many stories” (anthologies) or “books without pictures” (adult fiction). The reading room invites people to come and spend the day browsing the books of their choice, for Rs 99 (per day). This section has a whole collection of adult books, including graphic novels.

This bookstore for book lovers
This bookstore is a comfortable space for book lovers, whether they just want to browse or make a purchase. Photo: Joanna Lobo.

The couple started with picture books and a few adult options and now also sell new books; price below MRP. Every book in That Book Store has been handpicked; they do not seek donations but purchase their own books from wholesalers selling unused books. Since the curation is not thematic or geographical, it makes navigation fun. For those who like a bit of a risk with their reading, they have a loot bag section – books packaged with a phrase offering a clue to its type/genre.

It’s all in the writing

This bookstore is a valuable addition to the small but eclectic collection of bookstores and lending libraries in Goa. Last week, based in Bengaluru Books of Champaca opened its first branch in Anjuna, offering an eclectic collection of writings and a section dedicated to Goan literature. Many bookstores, like That Book Store, champion second-hand books – “think of it this way, those second-hand books also have their own stories beyond what’s written in their pages”.

The flying goat bookstore in goa
The Flying Goat is another bookstore in Goa which is a cafe as well as a pre-loved bookstore. Image: Courtesy of Flying Goat.

In the North East The flying goata café and a pre-loved bookstore that has over 5,000 books (all for sale except for a few rare books, art books, and a few coffee table books that are for in-house reading only).

In Anjuna, but operating largely online, is Booklet, which delivers books to your doorstep (on a cycle). Calangute has Literacya bookstore-café offering new, used and old books.

To the south is the popular Dogears Bookstorean independent bookstore that also collects donations and sells used books.

Dogears bookstore in Goa
Dogears Bookshop in South Goa is another gem that sells used books.
Photo: Joanna Lobo.

The future of That Book Store is busy. Sharda wants to work with organizations to organize book exchanges. This week they hosted the first edition of their book club – “a book club, really” – inviting people to share their own and others’ writings on the subject of grief. Coming soon, book fairs, children’s workshops in different spaces, a stand at Serendipity and internal workshops. And, if all goes well, there will soon be cats to accompany your reading sessions.

This bookstore is located in Altinho. Open Friday to Tuesday from 12 p.m. to 8 p.m. Membership is Rs 99/day, Rs 299/week and Rs 999/month. This is not a lending library. The average cost of books on sale is Rs 200.

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