For all the bibliophiles in the city, Delhi offers a wide range of places to satiate their love of the written word. From unique concept stores to inconspicuous second-hand shops, here’s our guide to the best bookstores to explore in the capital.
From the mahogany bookshelves to the leather armchairs and the soft jazz music, Chapter 101 creates an ambience that’s unlike any other bookstore you’ll ever visit. But it’s really the way they present their books that makes this place so special. For instance, since paper jackets have a knack for getting dirty or ripping, they carefully laminate selected hardbound volumes in-house. Chapter 101 is also a haven for collectors as they have a precious collection of rare and old books, some even dating back to the 1800s.
CMYK was born out of a desire to create a space dedicated to art and illustrated books, a concept that was much welcomed by the Delhites. The brand launched in 2009 and over the years has managed to open eight shops in different cities across the country. From travel to art, architecture, photography and fashion, the store has a wide-range of illustrated books that are difficult to find anywhere else. Besides books, CMYK also houses quirky stationary, gifts and decor items.
Located in the posh neighbourhood of Khan Market, Full Circle is easily one of the capital’s most popular bookshops. The ambience is warm and inviting and the great selection of titles ensures that you’ll never leave the store empty-handed. Once you find a good read, head to Cafe Turtle upstairs to enjoy the book over a warm cup of hot chocolate. It’s easy to spend hours here without realising how quickly time has flown by.
Balraj Bahri Malhotra came to Delhi in 1947 when India and Pakistan were carved into separate nations. He was 19 years old then. After working odd jobs for two years while living in a refugee camp, Malhotra finally managed to acquire a shop in Khan Market with some financial help from one of his employers. Thus began the journey of Bahrisons Bookshops. While many established bookstores in the city have been forced to close down, Bahrisons just seems to continue its growth story. Their fourth outlet opened just over a year ago in Gurugram.
Oxford Bookstore is one of the most recognised bookstore chains in India. Its first outlet opened on Park Street in Kolkata back in 1919 and has gone on to become an iconic landmark in the city. Oxford Bookstore’s Delhi outpost in Connaught Place is equally popular, not just for its well-curated list of titles but also, for its Cha Bar, the in-house tea cafe, which has become a stomping ground for the capital’s artsy and intellectual crowd.
For those who love accidentally stumbling upon a great read and at an affordable price, look no further than Book Shop at Lajpat Bhawan. The place is entirely managed by volunteers of a not-for-profit organisation called Sisters of the People. Book Shop is only open three days a weeks for three hours. But it’s worth making time to visit this quaint little place where you can find pre-owned gems for less than Rs 10 (£0.11).
May Day is both a bookstore and a cafe launched by LeftWord Books, a left-wing publishing house based in Shadi Khampur in west Delhi. The bookstore is a favourite haunt not just for bookworms but also for artists, academicians and intellectuals. May Day is built to be a part of Studio Safdar, a renowned performance space where they hold many events which are often free to the public.