A box full of literary surprises


A five-minute walk from Mandi House tube station on a windy Thursday afternoon brought us to the Aga Khan Hall on Bhagwan Das Road. People – usually in groups of two or three – have been seen walking to the same destination where Kitab Lovers, a city-based organization, is hosting a four-day book fair showcasing pre-loved and fresh titles. Unlike other book sales, this event – it’s called “Load the Box” – allows visitors to purchase a cardboard box and fit as many books in it as they can, on the sole condition the box closes flat.

Kitab Lovers was created with the aim of creating a market for used books. “A book lover is concerned with the content of the book and not whether the book is new or not. So we tried to offer pre-loved titles to readers,” co-founder Harpreet Singh shared. The major problem I saw working as a bookseller was that people wanted to read the books but it was because of the price that they couldn’t. That’s how the concept came about so that people could buy pre-loved books in a box, and the price would be capped in order for them to get more [books]added RK Shankar, co-founder. Since its inception in 2018, the organization apart from selling books through its website has been organizing literary events in various cities such as Ahmedabad, Mumbai, Surat, Chandigarh, etc.

A visitor browsing the books

A paradise for bibliophiles

Amid the hubbub of the event, several avid readers combed through the available titles that were neatly stacked on shelves, classifying the so-called 10 lakh books into categories such as hardcover, fiction, non-fiction , children’s books, etc. While talking about the challenges of filling their box, Sucharita Biswas (33) shared, “It is both a boon and a curse for us. So many books and such a small box (laughs). I was looking forward to getting 20-25 lbs but was only able to fit 15 in this box. A literary critic from Ghaziabad, Biswas has bought Agatha Christie’s A Caribbean Mystery, Stephen Fry’s The Hippopotamus, among others.

Visitors had the option to purchase one of three boxes – the Money Saver Box priced at Rs 1,100; Wealth Box priced at Rs 1,650; Treasure Box at Rs 2,750 – where they could place the books they were eager to buy. We noticed Saara Aamir Hasan (14) sitting in the corner with over 30 titles and a big box next to her on the floor. Her parents were trying to fit the books she had chosen into the box. “The last book fair I went to was years ago at Pragati Maidan. I had a great time there so when my dad told me about this place we knew we had to come,” shared the Noida resident who enjoys reading books by John Green, Rick Riordan etc. . For Aanchal Lodhi (24), the book sale was nothing short of a celebration of Raksha Bandhan – she was at the event with her brother. “He is 11 years old but he reads a lot. We are here to get books for him. We were able to fit about 15 in this box, and I’ve got some really great titles here,” she shared.

The space also allowed some visitors to meet other book lovers in the city. Trisha Sachdeva (20) shared that she had met many people and told them about the stocks she was buying. In fact, a few books she bought on Thursday were recommended to her by readers there. “I am happy to be here. The event gave me a great chance to connect with avid readers who share similar interests,” the Ghaziabad resident concluded.


WHAT: Lock the box

WHERE: Aga Khan Hall, Bhagwan Das Lane, Mandi House

WHEN: Until August 14

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