About two years ago, city-based book-lovers were saddened at the loss of one of the popular and iconic bookstores — Manney’s. Now, book enthusiasts in the city are on the brink of parting with another literary establishment — Chapter and Verse, located at Gera Plaza, Boat Club Road. But for her age and uncertainty about her successor, 81-year-old Manjari Arvind Gordhandas would have celebrated 20th anniversary of her bookstore in July, 2015.
The store, which was established by her husband Arvind in 1995, has been run by Gordhandas since 2000, when her husband passed away. “With a heavy heart, I took this tough decision about a month ago. There are two reasons — firstly, I am very old to manage it and secondly, I do not have anyone to whom I can pass on the store and who can continue to give the service we have given to our loyal customers so far,” said Gordhandas, who is now in the process of clearing the whole stock and is selling all the books at flat 60 per cent discount till the end of this month. “By December, we will be closing the store,” she informed.
The store houses around 45,000 books belonging to various genres — literature, fiction, non-fiction, management, philosophy, religious, HR, cookery, children’s books, self-help, history and so on. From 2000 onwards, the bookstore has catered to around 12 management institutes and corporate firms by supplying them management books in bulk. There are also a number of Gujarati books. “All our customers from the last two decades, have got associated with us only through publicity by mouth. They are mostly our acquaintances and their friends, who frequent the store,” said Gordhandas.
Gordhandas herself isn’t a book lover. “Once in a while I pick up a book and read it, but it happens very rarely. The two authors whose work I found interesting are Sudha Murthy and APJ Abdul Kalam,” she said, adding that her husband who was an avid reader and ‘Chapter and Verse’ was his brainchild. “He neither borrowed or lent books, he always bought his books,” shared the wife. The couple had got married in 1956. After working with a firm named NMM in Mumbai for seven years, Arvind started his own management consultancy firm in Mumbai. In 1994, the couple shifted to Pune. “Initially, he started the store with just 1,500-2,000 books which belonged to him. Since he was also into writing poetry, he would sit here at the store and write poems. That time our customers primarily included his friends,” said the octogenarian.
However, after her husband passed away, Gordhandas increased the stock of books. That’s when she got in touch with management institutes too, and soon the store started supplying books to them. “Two people who proved to be support in my journey are my helpers — Anita Whiphul and Sanjay Salvi. They have been a part of the store from day one,” said Gordhandas, adding that since some of the books were very old, they needed proper care. “We need to spray a mixture of insecticide at regular intervals to prevent the books from termites,” she said.