Tuesday, September 20, 2011

# The Lost World

Friends there was a time when rental library culture was flourishing all over India and specially in northern India.
In almost every mohalla of every town there were small libraries which use to provide comics/novels on rent to the readers,the rent being normally 10% of the printed price of comics/novels.

The library business was quite a profitable one as a majority of Indian middle class readership could afford to read via renting only,in many cities library business established like a self funded small scale business providing employment to a large volume of under educated Indian population.

Mostly a library was formed by those persons only who themselves have great interest in reading and after purchasing comics/novels continuously finally comes up with the novel idea that why not to earn by this habit also !

As i have also mentioned many times that during my school days i too use to open up a temporary library at my home which was functional in summer holidays where i first use to read all comics myself and then put them in library for renting.

In many libraries there was also facility of home delivery and home picking where one or two library guys use to deliver comics/magazines/novels on bicycle to nearby homes and pick it also after stipulated time along with rent.
Local libraries were the most voluminous customer of the local comics/mags/novel dealer.In my city only there were as many as 15-20 renting libraries within a radius of 4-5 Km.

But later on time changed and with the advent of TV first then video then video games,mobile and now internet reading culture suffered a huge setback which laid a drastic effect on library business and slowly slowly almost all renting libraries from cities and towns got vanished.  
Now neither i could find a renting library anywhere i visit and nor do i hear about it.

Recently when i went to my home town then somehow i thought of to search any of the still existing rental libraries nearby my locality and in the process i was able to found two of them about which i am going to discuss here.

First one of these is the kind of rental library which i was looking for,i reached its place with the help of my memory as in childhood i use to borrow comics from there,and i was pleasantly surprised to find that the library was still there but now being run by the son of the founder.

It contain lots of novels,magazines and comics which are comparatively newer one such as Raj comics and Diamond comics.It also have some old Manoj comics but not any big size Manoj Chitra Katha and not any Indrajal comics though in childhood i have had rented many Indrajal comics from there.

This library was found by Mr.Jagdish Narayan Saxena in late 80's and now is been run by his son Rajendra Kumar Saxena.

This library consists of a good amount of Hindi novels mainly of Ved Prakash Sharma,Surendra Mohan Pathak,Manoj,Rajhans and other lesser known writers.

On interviewing the owner he accepted that readership now has been reduced by a exponential percentage in recent 10-15 years compared to the past when it was a quite profitable business.Later on when he was asked that whether he would be quitting this business or will stick to it he briefed that since library still is providing a satisfactory bread and butter so he has no plans in near future to wind it up.

The other library which i found was actually not a rental library in the strict sense but was more a community library where anybody can read newspapers,
books,magazines and literary books for free.

This library consists of thousands of Hindi/Urdu/English literary books which are available for free to read here.Though there are no comics and pulp Hindi fiction but contains a good amount of Urdu Jasoosi Duniya.  

It was founded by Mr.Mohd Irfan(68),now a retired Headmaster from Zila Parishad,in 1973 with a motive to encourage reading habit and provide a easy and cheap access to books for his locality readers.

Initially it was funded by several community members but from more than a decade its being funded and run solely by Mr.Irfan in his home where a separate room has been allotted for it.

For a middle class retired man like Mr.Irfan its not easy to keep on maintaining the library which needs not less than a thousand of Rupee/month but for Mr.Irfan reading is a part of life which can be parted apart with life only and his library is a integral part of his life which he intends to carry throughout his remaining life.


akfunworld said...

Zaheer bhai welcome back after a long time...
I also remember running the business of renting comics to my school friends. Because of my huge collection i was one of the most famous boy of my school and even the student older then me also used to come to me for comics and i used to have a free treat of 'Fulki'(Paani puri).
Really i miss those days.
You are right that now the no. of rental libraries are negligible. I remember just 5 to 6 years ago there were more than 15 rental book stores near by me and when in this summer vacation of mine i tried to search them i found that none of them are still running, most of the shopkeepers have started another business. One day i found the shopkeeper who was having the biggest comics collection in our area and when i asked why he closed his shop, he told me 'Beta ab to koi comics padhta hi nahi tum log bhi baahar chale gaye ho. Kuch samay tak koshish ki ki ye dhandha band na ho, lekin ab to log novel bhi padhna band kar chuke hain to kharcha kaha se chalta.'

Vinayak Razdan said...

Gret post!! I used to rent a lot of comics from shops like these. Not many left in my home town.

Colonel Worobu said...

Good post CW! I used to borrow alistair maclean, james hadley chase novels from the lending libraries in my hometown when I was little. They are still around even today though readership has gone down a lot. There was no TV in india in those days and radio and books and the cinema theater were the only sources of entertainment.

Toonfactory said...

Zabardast post! Kitni saari yaadein ek saath taaza karwa di Zahir Bhai Aapne... Ek snaadaar post ke liye dheron saadhuwaad!

Venkitachalam Subramanian said...

Ahhh! The Good Colonel brought back good memories. James Hadley Chase, Alistair MacLean, Ian Fleming (Enid Blyton before that). Those were the days. Borrow and read books, tune on to Vividh Bharathi and go to the nearest theater to see a movie. You could enjoy yourself and still have a good night's sleep.
If only we could get back to those days without cable TV and cell phones! (Now I am being all mushy and hypocritical!!)

Colonel Worobu said...

My library used to stock racks and racks of 100s and 100s of Gold Key, Charlton, Dell, Fawcett and other comic foreign books, and of course many copies of all IJCs and other Indian comics. I would go once every two weeks and load two full bags of comics for reading (after doing home work of course). I used to sneak in a Harold Robbins book occasionally. I had finished reading all Ian Fleming novels by the time I was 13. But Chase has written more than eighty books and it took me a while to read most of them. And chase books cannot be read one after another because they are all the same. So after a chase you need to read a Desmond Bagley, or Alistair Maclean or a Sudden western and then go back to Chase.

Listening to All Indira Radio (oops .. I meant All India Radio if you get what I mean :o) ) was a real pleasure as well. Bournvita quiz contest on Sundays was a treat.

Give me a time machine and I will go back and stay there forever :o)

Toonfactory said...

Zahir Bhai and my dear comic book lover friends, we have just uploaded a 10 minutes cut from our upcoming documentary: Chitrakatha on our website - www.chitrakathaonline.com as well as my personal blog www.2nfactory.blogspot.com, please have a look and feel free to share it on your blogs and profiles :)

Anonymous said...

Good to know that at least you are able to find these 2 old libraries. I am not able to find even one in my area, all are closed long back. If we can go back to that old golden time when life was so simple and enjoy full.

indian citizen said...

I feel enough fortunate that I enjoyed all these all things from 83-84 to 94-95, which was, indeed, the best period of my life.

dayanidhi said...

jaheer miyan, aap bareilly se ho, main bhi bareilly se hi hoon. pahli wali library bhood wali to nahi aur ye doosri kis jagah hai.

dayanidhi said...

perhaps, I should say, jaheer bhai... please provide me your phone number.....

dayanidhi said...

meri aapse mulaqat jaroor hui hogi yahan par...

online ged said...

I like your blog, i learned a lot from this, your page provide much knowledgeable info. Thanks for sharing it.

Anonymous said...

A very good post. There were several rental libraries at my place. I was also contemplating making a post on this subject and reaserched a bit about those old rental libraries at my place.
One shop-keeper told me that he closed the business of rending books in 1991 itself. Now he is running a Halwai shop. When I enquired from him whether he still has some comics left with him. He told me that he used the same for selling jalebis! Imagine hot Jalebis on a IJC page of Phantom or a Popat-Chopat page of Madhu Muskan. The second one started milk dairy. Now at his shop where I used to find a lot of golden era comics like IJC, MM, Diamond, MCK etc. I can see packets of milk and butter! Another one started dry-cleaning shop. I could not locate others. So now only Delhi Public Library is left but you cannot find good old books there now. The same moden computer-generated illustrated books. Lifeless ones. Nothing more than that. Life is like that. When we were small we heard our parents and grandparents taking about 'good old times' and now we are doing the same in front of our children. Change is the only aspect of nature which never changes. For us now there are old memories and some survived left out comics to cherish or if I may say so re-visit that golden part of our existence. So enjoy!

him.43 said...

ye pehli waali library ka address kya h bly me......

Gaurav Arya said...

Dear Zaheer Bhai aapki is post se aapne to purane din yaad dila diye. Wo garmiyon ki chuttiyan or wo puri dopeher mera comics library se ghar or 20-30 minutes bad fir ghar se library ke chakkar lagana. Wo dada ji ya nana ji ke ghar ja ke aas paas me comic library search karna. Aaj sab yaad aa gaya. Thanks for your post.

mintara said...

thanks man. lots of thanks. good effort

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