If you walk along Chawri Bazaar, then you can't miss this corner bookshop: Dehati Pustak Bhandar.
They're more than just a bookshop, really. Dehati Pustak Bhandar (DBP) is among Delhi's most well-known Hindi publishing houses. They also produce books in English.
Busy mid-morning at Dehati Pustak Bhandar
When I passed by the shop, they were doing brisk business. Several people were crowding with lists of orders, and the sales staff were busy hunting up books.
DPB is nearly 75 years old. The owners are Aggarwals, one of India's traditional business communities. As a first-generation entrepreneur, I admire any family-owned business that can survive for seven decades. It tells me not only that the baton is being passed successfully from one generation to the next; but also that each generation is evolving to keep the business in synch with their times.
In the publishing business, with changing customer tastes, I'm sure things can't be easy. But DBP seems to have got it right. At the heart of their business is the huge lower-middle class Hindi speaking populace; for whom they produce not just text books and technical literature, but also religious stuff, detective novels and everything else under the sun.
The primary sales are from technical books. Many of these are useful "How to" books in Hindi, teaching various skills, from welding to repairing tractors to wielding a lathe. Some of these are used as textbooks by those studying for diplomas in engineering. They are not expensive; and prices start at as low as Rs 30, and go up to Rs 300 for some of the fat books.
Three books that each train you for a specific trade
Here's a look at some other interesting books that caught my eye:
Cool stuff, huh? I love the cover design of the gemstones book; it reminds me of old Bollywood posters.
Clearly all these books are designed (and priced) with a specific audience in mind. I'm not sure how their English-language books are faring; but it's obvious that they're taking their skills at producing low-priced Hindi books, and using it to also mop-up the cost conscious segment of English readers. It's good to find a publishing company that knows what it's doing.