Of thriving bookstores, Epson prints and eco-Ganpati

One of the subjects that have been in talks for a long time is the inevitable impact that increased purchasing of books online would have on the shelf space at retail.

24 Sep 2015 | By Dhanshri Kamath

The book store business in India may have suffered a blow with the arrival of online retailers like Flipkart and Amazon, but the new attack comes from e-books that are downloaded on electronic devices.
The latest trend of e-books and the introduction of Amazon’s Kindle has taken the experience of reading to a whole new level. With Kindle, people now carry thousands of books in their pockets. But book-sellers feel the smell of books will continue to interest the loyal reader.
Online retailers have grabbed a major chunk of the market and countering them has become a huge challenge for the book stores. But the biggest threat to the book-store is perhaps not from online retailers, but from the ever increasing cost of real estate in big cities, where running a bookshop has become financially difficult.
There are many online book-stores like flipkart.com, indiabookstore.com, amazon.in, bookstok.com, bookadda.com, buybooksindia.com, books4u.in etc, making readers order books and getting them delivered at home with a click. Even then, few bookshops continue to stand strong. One of them is Sapna Book House, a 40,000 sq. ft store in Gandhinagar, Karnataka, the gateway to 1980s’ Bangalore. Nijesh Shah, a third generation member of the family that runs Sapna, says they see the chaos in the publishing world as an opportunity and that they look at a book store as a community-building exercise.
In their heyday, some of the large- format Landmark stores were known to do an annual business of Rs.50 crore on their mix of books, music, films and stationery. A decade on, Landmark seems almost certainly on the verge of shutdown. Independent bookstores are heaving under the weight of the online book market, which has changed reading habits and solved the problem of towering rentals. Delhiites have bid goodbye to some beloved names, such as Basant Lok’s Fact & Fiction Booksellers, The Bookworm in Connaught Place (CP) and Yodakin in Hauz Khas Village. Galgotia’s is the latest in the list, with Spell & Bound in SDA Market and Timeless Art Book Studio in South Extension.
It is not that book reading has reduced – it has in fact increased. A new generation of authors appealing to the sensibilities of the aspiring classes has mushroomed. Some book store feel, that now people visit them more because of nostalgia over closing book stores and that this is just a temporary dent and some owners are pushing the panic button too soon.
Photography quarterly PIX, earlier this year had called in for submissions from photographers, be it a professional, an amateur or an enthusiast from any nationality for a special issue on Pakistan. The 11th issue of PIX, dedicated to photography in Pakistan, is titled ‘Surge- Deluge, Growth, Outbreak, Rupture”
All the photographs in the issue were printed digitally on Epson enhanced archival acid free paper. Some of the photographs were directly shot on digital cameras, or were mixed media digital collages. Whereas, few works were on negatives, which were digitally scanned later.
Surge explores the evolving relationship between art-practice and documentary tropes as they are taking shape in Pakistan. With a general emphasis on the notion of a surge—a sudden and powerful development in identity and location-specific imagery, the issue speculates a renewed understanding of the future of photo-practice within a country that has witnessed a swiftly evolving ‘state’, leading to a range of activity around personal expression and social awareness
Featured photographers in the issue include François Daireaux, Amber Hammad, Asad Hayee, Malcolm Hutcheson, Mariam Ibraaz, Tooraj Khamenehzadeh, Naiza Khan and many others.
The series is supported by the Goethe-Institut/Max Mueller Bhavan. The exhibition is being held at the Gallery MMB in Mumbai from August 21 – October 1. Once published, the quarterly will be circulated in India and selected outposts in South Asia where the Goethe-Institut has a base.
Ganesh festival
Ganesh Chaturthi, a festival celebrated all over India starts and ends with great pomp and fun. It is one of the most magnificent festival which is celebrated for 10 days, at the end of which, the devotees immerse the statue in a river, lake or sea.

In the passion of celebrating this festival, we generally forget the hazardous impact of the immersion of idols on environment. The idol of Ganesha is generally made of clay, Plaster of Paris (POP), plastic and cement. Toxic paints are also used to decorate the idol. After the immersion, the ingredients of the statue does not completely dissolve in the water which then leads to pollution of the environment.

To save the environment from the ill effects of immersion of POP and cement statues, many organisations have come up with some eco-friendly Ganesha statues that dissolve in the water completely.
One such initiative has been taken by Avinash Patkar, a 60 year old sculptor, who from the past 12 years has been making Ganesh idols using old newspapers. His entire family helps him with this job.
The idols are made by crushing the paper and using a special technique to give it hardness and the desired shape. According to Patkar, when these idols are immersed in water, it immediately disintegrates.
Another initiative taken by a creative agency, BBDO India for Awaaz foundation, is an origami Ganesh idol,made from paper folds, which is easy to recycle. It's about sending something away and reinventing it next year round.
We all need to realise that as it is very important to worship the god and celebrate the festival, it is equally important to think about the environment.