April 30, 2012

Daryaganj Sunday Book Market, New Delhi


It is not unusual to see school/college students early morning moving around with bags full of books, despite the December chill & foggy conditions. But if you see the same on a Sunday morning, rest assured you have reached the right place for book shopping – The Daryaganj Sunday Book Bazaar. No, the bazaar does not have this grand name, it is just an assortment of traders from many different places in Delhi, getting together on the footpaths of Daryaganj every Sunday, to showcase their wares – predominantly books, but also stamps, coins, amulets, cheap clothes, mechanical & kitchen accessories & stationery. Why were we there, for the books of course.


I want a throne like that!!


Every Sunday the mile-long footpath gets covered with books – thousands of them, millions of them, there are so many books that many a times not getting the space to walk, people walk over them, which is actually quite a pity. & then there are the traders themselves who sit on top of the book piles, handing the customer what s/he needs by picking it out & replacing at the right place.


But not a floor like this!!


There are all types of books available – novels (Chetan Bhagat, Arundhati Roy, J.K. Rowling, V.S. Naipaul, Dostoyevsky, Tagore, Premchand, William Dalrymple - you name it, you get it), memoirs, biographies, quiz books, coffee table books, encyclopaedias, magazines, school & college course books & even entrance exam preparation material – be it IIT, AIEEE, CA, UPSC, Bank or any other of the numerous exams. There are possibilities of one finding books that may not be available in regular book stalls due to them being difficult to order or find.

Since not many people read books these days, & not even half of them know about the market, we, i.e me & my school friend Piyush, were pretty pleased with ourselves for going there one fine Sunday morning. Since it was our first time to the market we decided to reach there by 8am (it opens from 6am-9pm), we were in for quite a shock. The market was filled with people – men, women & children of almost all ages, thronging to the sellers, bargaining like anything. How did they reach there so early?? Shit!! We had to jostle in the crowd to move our way through. & since it was our first time there, we were not even sure how to bargain. The first book-pile we saw, we bought the same set of books – the only difference being that while I bought them for Rs 300, Piyush bought them off for Rs 200. Disappointing!! But it left us all the more cleverer as we went to the next pile. Sadly we did not get to try our newly learnt bargaining skills, since even the thickest & glossiest books were priced at Rs 20-30. Even though most of the books here are either second-hand or pirated editions or second-hand pirated editions, yet the place is a heaven for those who are tired of having to buy overly priced books. . Given the correct skills & practice, a person can bring down the price of a book to as low as 10% of its original price – I was able to buy Amish’s "Secret of the Nagas", available for Rs 300 elsewhere for Rs 20 (yes yes I helped promote piracy, so what?? They should be happy I am reading the book). Although these days most books can be downloaded free of cost from various internet sites, yet it can never match the pleasures of the printed word, & what better place to buy all the bestsellers at throwaway prices. The simple fact is the readership is not going to increase unless book prices are brought down, if piracy helps, then why not?? One does not face issues like missing pages or typographical errors in the book itself – although as it happened to me, the cover stitched to a book may not actually be its own, it may be an altogether different book on the inside – hence, don’t judge a book by its cover!! Two shops later, we had our hands full with books, so heavy that we just wanted to keep them somewhere & sit, but we did not, because the lure of more books kept pulling us to the next pile. Also we had to buy some study material too, you can get college books at dirt cheap prices, though you might have to put in some extra effort to find the latest editions & the correct authors among the bulk of books available. I even bought some stamps off a dealer selling whole stamp books & stamps from countries like the US, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Canada, Brazil, Nepal, China, Nigeria etc. I was not sure how many of those were real, but since each individual stamp was only Rs 1-2, & a whole book was for Rs 50/100, it seemed a sell-out.

Buy some stamps..


Coin sellers too peddle their ware here, so do several cloth-traders & traders of a number of paraphernalia, like screwdrivers, hammers, knives, pans, amulets & even photo albums. The mass of humanity swelled as the day got longer, & at 11 am we had to step down from the footpaths in order to avoid the milling crowds.


Or would you like some coins??


There are more than 150 book sellers here who sell their books on the pavement. They have their fixed spot and they can be seen here every Sunday outside the closed shutter of the shops. You can not only buy second hand books here but can also sell them to the vendors or get them exchanged for other books. Some of the book sellers sell specialized books while many others can be found selling all types of books. The traders, even though they had their hands full, were helpful & guided you to the right shop if you asked or tried to help you find the right book, no matter how long it took. Well, at least most of them, a guy selling IAS study material from Vajiram-Ravi, was quarrelsome with almost all the customers, I still don’t know what got into him. Moreover most of the people involved in this big Indian bazaar – from the customers & traders to the tea-seller manning the corner shop – would pose for you at a single request, which definitely made my day.


Does he know how to read??


Finishing our quota of shopping, we headed to the nearest bus stop, just down the road, right next to the Delhi Gate, one of the surviving gates of the erstwhile Shahjanabad (refer Pixelated Memories - Delhi Gate). It was difficult to pull oneself away from all those books & move on, more so because one knows that so many of those hold the keys to strange worlds & distant lands, a welcome relief from the monotony at the end of the day (or at the beginning or the middle if you are just like me). A date with books on another Sunday then..

Location: Near Delhi Gate of Old Delhi
Nearest Metro Station: Chandni Chowk
How to reach: Once you deboard at Chandni Chowk Metro Station, ask for the Red Fort, you would be guided to a narrow lane that opens straight to Chandni Chowk Road, take a rickshaw to Delhi Gate & walk from there on. (Don’t ask the rickshaw-wallahs to take you to the book market because they would drop you off at a place called Nai Sarak, where permanent book shops are located)
Timings:
6am – 9pm
Photography/Video Charges: Nil
Precautions: It gets pretty crowded so take care of your belongings, Beware of thieves & pickpockets. 
Relevant Links - 

43 comments:

  1. Interesting post! I like the easy style in which you describe the every-day stories of life.

    ReplyDelete
  2. nice! the flow of the blog is simple and yet the description is vivid which provides the deep insight to the subject you are covering here!
    keep writing!

    ReplyDelete
  3. beautiful place, & even nice write up..good!!

    ReplyDelete
  4. thanks 4 ur writing and telling us details..i want to purchase upsc ias books..can i able to get those books here in this market

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hey Ishant, thanks for writing.
      Yes you can buy UPSC books for almost all the subjects at the bazaar - in fact some shopkeepers even stock the sample papers & second-hand study material from various coaching centers - Vaji Ram, Rau etc.

      Do keep reading, would love to see you again on this blog :)
      All the best for your exam preparations.

      Delete
    2. Hey bro.....can a just previous edition books are available there...i meant almost newly editions???

      Delete
  5. thanks Sahil 4 ur response it helps me a lot to get information abt that place..1 more question ...
    Can i get magazines like PD,CSR,YOJNA,CHRONICLE,SCIENCE REPORTER etc at the cheapest price over there as the Study material is much more and i want to purchase them at afforadble prices.....wating 4 ur response.!!!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Ishant you can get magazines at lower than market prices here - but of course, you will have to pay more than one visit in order to get all the material you desire, since you would have to identify the bookkeepers who cater to your needs & then ask them to see if they could make available the most up to date material.
      & your bargaining skills will be tested too!! :)

      Delete
  6. I think i should first go to that place to learn up the most dated material as the current status of Upsc get used to change every time by variations of forthcoming questions coming in exam..And too for my bargaining skills to be tested I should make my physcial presence over there..

    Thanks 4 ur response.;)

    ReplyDelete
  7. Sir
    Someone told me that this market opens at 10am is it true?
    Can i get book for iit preparation(engineering exam ) here? They will be second hand or new? How much discount at max will i get on cover price? From which shop should i buy these books?
    Currently i am in12 th and new to delhi plz helppp

    ReplyDelete
  8. I also want to buy about 80 thick ruled reguster like the classmate ones with good page quality. Can i buy from here? Which shop is best what price will i get for these registers that i want for my practise??
    Plz help....
    1 last question
    Are first hand books also available here, of yes what doscount?

    ReplyDelete
  9. Will i get all books that are neede for iit preparation at this place??

    ReplyDelete
  10. i want to buy books related spanish language,eg- pocket dictionery,spanish grammar,DELE spanish exam....
    can i get them from here?
    Bipin kumar yadav...
    gorakhpur-barhalganj(khutbhar)

    ReplyDelete
  11. when i came to know about daryaganj the best place to buy your favourite books" am very excited to go visit....


    thanks for this info......bipin... kumar yadav

    ReplyDelete
  12. Hi Shobhit, welcome to "Pixelated Memories".

    Yes you can get JEE/AIEEE preparation books as well as registers here. However there are no shops, the hawkers come & peddle their wares on the ground. The amount of discount you get depends on your bargaining skills.

    Regards new books - New pirated books may be available. You can buy them if you feel like.

    Hope you have a good time shopping!!

    ReplyDelete
  13. Yes Bipin, you can also buy dictionaries to various foreign languages, thesauruses etc here. Though they aren't as cheap & usually cost upwards of Rs 150.

    ReplyDelete
  14. I have visited there two times, you can find every author and publication books over there. But the road is being very congested.

    ReplyDelete
  15. Hi Sahil. Thanks for this blog. I have been meaning to go to that place for months but the heat has been putting me off. If you could dig deep in your memory and find out the price of the UPSC material, I will be grateful. Give me an estimate if you will. I have been out of the bargaining scene in Delhi for a while and do not want to be robbed. You know of the buyer;s remorse? Had I pushed a bit more, maybe... Please let me know ASAP. Thanks and again, good blog. Keep it up!

    ReplyDelete
  16. Anyone else for that matter, if Sahil happens to miss this post.

    ReplyDelete
  17. Hey
    Thanks for stopping by. Welcome to "Pixelated Memories"
    As far as I can remember, a set of Vajiram Ravi course material costs Rs 700. But that was a year back. I visit the bazaar every 2-3 months to restock my library but didn't bother much with the prices of study materials since I won't be giving my UPSC exams for at least another year.
    There is this guy in the bazaar, he only stocks IAS study material. You should find him about. He sets shops close to the Delhi Gate.
    Hope I was helpful.

    ReplyDelete
  18. Thanks Sahil,
    I am a casual visitor. Your blog helped me to decide how to spend my Sunday.

    ReplyDelete
  19. AnonymousMay 13, 2014

    Hello Sir,
    I want to buy full study material of resonance kota. Can I get that..? If yes please tell how much would it cost...?

    ReplyDelete
  20. hey thnkeww!!...really now i wanna go to the market at any COST.
    and the write-up was amazinglly appreciable.....:).
    plz write for other famous and cheap markets too in delhi.

    ReplyDelete
  21. now i would'nt freakout on sundays beacuse of boredom....its a better way to spend!!!

    ReplyDelete
  22. Piyush BlagganSeptember 29, 2014

    yaadein taaza ho gyi...

    ReplyDelete
  23. Beatriz RaschdorfSeptember 29, 2014

    Que nadie compra libros La gente ya no leen que lastima !!!

    ReplyDelete
  24. hey. Thanx for the blog. it was very helpful as i wanted to buy some novels from here. Can one get sherlock holmes, agatha cristie and other such books from here? And paolo coelho and diary of a whimpy kid series?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Sherlock Holmes, Agatha Christie and Paulo Coelho are some of the most popular novels on sale at the bazaar and you can get one or the other copy in almost every heap. Wimpy kid is available but not always.

      Delete
  25. can i get ICSE boards books for class 10th in this market ?

    ReplyDelete
  26. can i get ICSE boards books for class 10th in this market ?

    ReplyDelete
  27. hello,I want to buy some inspirational hindi books and novels and also hindi translation of foreign author's novel like of agatha cristie,john grisham,j.k rowling paulo coelho.
    will I be able to get all these?
    do reply me fast please because if they would be available I will come down to delhi by the coming sunday.

    ReplyDelete
  28. can we get referesher of 10th class and pls let me know they buy old book also and with what discount?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Refresher books are available at certain dealers. Not sure if they buy old books as well - you'll anyway get a higher price selling them to a bookshop near you than in Daryaganj! Also, do check websites where you can sell old books.

      Delete
  29. Pixelated Memories, is this sale still functional???? Is it open during weekdays??

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi! As the title suggests, the bazaar only opens on Sundays. There is one shop where books can be bought by weight that remains open all days, the remaining are peddlers who congregate here from all over Delhi only on Sundays.

      Delete
  30. Do we get other language books too?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I doubt. You can get dictionaries for Spanish, German etc. But novels and course materials are mostly English/Hindi and very rarely Urdu.

      Delete
  31. Very nicely written,,,,All information compiled....thanks

    ReplyDelete
  32. I am planning to reach there at 11:00 AM. Would I get something ?

    ReplyDelete
  33. I am planning to reach there at 11:00 AM. Would I get something ?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Bhavya,

      The bazaar's open till late evening, although considering the scorching heat these days, I would suggest reach there at 8-9 am and be inside somewhere by 11!

      I was there just this past week and it became nearly intolerable to roam around in such blistering heat, especially with the huge book-stuffed bags that we were carrying.

      Happy shopping!

      Delete
  34. Hii. Can I get resonance material and Allen jee material there

    ReplyDelete
  35. Hii. Can I get resonance material and Allen jee material there

    ReplyDelete