For those who don’t know anything about Kolkata, College street is a 1.5-kilometer-long stretch in Central Kolkata. The road houses hundreds of bookstore, roadside bookstalls from Mahatma Gandhi Road to Ganesh Chandra Avenue in Bowbazar. College street is the largest book market in Asia and the second largest secondhand book market it the world.
A day after Cyclone Amphan hit West Bengal, residents of Kolkata’s College Street area woke up seeing pages of different books strewn all around the waterlogged road. Books lay scattered throughout the lanes; so many of them drowned, wet and torn.
Municipal workers then informed the book-sellers who were already in distress due to the continuous lockdown. The roadside stall owners rushed to the spot and were seen picking up what was left of the wet books. Few of them have decided to dry the pages and sell them at a second-hand price.
One book-seller said, “Books are not essential items, so my shop was closed for the last 50 days. We cannot even provide home delivery services because people used to come here, check out the books, sit and read the preface and hunt for treasures at a throwaway price.” Most of the roadside stall owners are completely shattered. They are uncertain about what the future holds for them.
Popularly known as ‘Boi Para’, College Street is also known for its huge collection of rare old books. The small book stores can definitely impress antiquarians and connoisseurs of good text. The book sellers have separate lists of rare books, British era diaries, magazines from all around the world.