For every child in Alaknanda, CR Park and Greater Kailash II, Eureka! was the best place to buy the new Harry Potter book. Year after year, the lines would start at 6 am,and if they would run out of books the store managers would personally console children, who were blue about having to wait another day. This Thursday though was the last day for the store, which has had to survive amid soaring rents and publishing prices. “Many of our clients came to the store, hugged us and bid us farewell. They are like family,” says M Venkatesh, one of the owners.
In 2003, Swati Roy and Venkatesh started the bookstore in a basement in CR Park. As children’s literature grew exponentially, they rented out a space in the Alaknanda neighbourhood. “Once, this lady entered our store with her car running. She wanted to buy a book for her son, who had gotten out of the hospital. She wanted to cheer him up. I will never forget the expectant look on her face,”
It was in 2007 when they reached their peak with the Harry Potter craze. “Mostly, I will miss having young people come to the store with their friends, talking about how they grew up buying books here,” he says. Eureka! has been known to keep a wide variety of Indian publishers. “We personally go pick books for our store from Katha, Tulika, and National Book Trust, among others. The store had only 190 sq ft, but children would find space to sit in corners and read,” says Venkatesh.
The duo are also founders of the children’s festival Bookaroo. They still plan on home delivering books to clients in the area, but for the most part, their operations are moving online. “We have an active email chain where we discuss events, new arrivals and demands,” says Venkatesh. They currently work out of a basement in CR park. “Apart from our regular activities, we also plan to host our clientele every fortnight, where they can have a look at our fresh stock and just socialise. We also want to expand Bookaroo to other cities (currently held in Delhi, Pune and Srinagar) and by moving online, we have more time and space to work on Bookaroo,” he says.