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Welcome to Bookistaan

Bookistaan is India’s first recommendations based online children’s bookstore

As a small town bookstore, we have an inclination towards Indian publishing and writing, that hasn’t been able to find the routes into smaller towns. We believe it’s important for children to be exposed to their own literature for them to grow into empathetic individuals, proud of their own roots.

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9AM-6PM Kanpur, Uttar Pradesh, India +91 9711541107 [email protected]
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Atta Galatta, a Bookstore/ Cafe/ Events Space in Bangalore is a haven for book lovers and food lovers alike, offering the unique experience of being able to float among thousands of books, mostly of Indian origin. Started in 2012 by Subodh Sankar and Lalitha Lakshmi, with the dream of bringing together art and culture. Lalitha Lakshmi shares with Bookistaan their story and what it’s like to sail against the tide.

What’s Atta Galatta‘s story?

I had been interested in having a bookstore for a long time and my husband is a foodie,  both of us started Atta Galatta together. Atta Galatta is a bookstore, cafe and events space. We actually started out from our home initially in 2012, so we had a simple beginning. Then after a year we shifted to a commercial space in Koramangala, near Jyoti Nivaas College. We started with very few events, after that when we saw the response to the events and we realized connection, people who came to the event picked up the books and had food, we found everything was interrelated and then the events grew.

What does Atta Galatta mean?

The reason we called it Atta Galatta is that it’s an Indian writing bookstore. We have Malayalam, Hindi, Tamil, Bengali, Kannada, all Indian languages and we carry mainly Indian writing authors, only for Children we have Foreign authors. Since our focus is on regional literature and Indian writing, we wanted the name to have an Indian flavor also. We wanted a word that meant something in all regional languages – you take Kannada, Atta means Attic, Atta means Play and Ataa in Tamil means play again and Galatta is sort of a universal word, it means noise. You don’t usually associate a Bookstore with shor, a bookstore is supposed to be a quiet place but Atta Galatta is not like that. You’ll find people here all the time, chatting, drinking coffee, it’s like a beehive and that’s the kind on thing we wanted our bookstore to stand for.

You said that the bookstore is also an events space, so how often do you do these events?

We do events every week – Saturdays and Sundays are full of events, we’ll have minimum of eight events in a month, Fridays also we’ve started events now and weekdays we have classes – we have yoga class, theatre classes, dance classes and sometimes we have a Meet A Friend kind of events as well. We publish a calendar for every week, we mail our regular customers and also post it on Facebook.

Atta Galatta, Bangalore

Atta Galatta, Bangalore

So, you invite Authors and other people for these events?

The first year I had to call people and then as the word spread about us it’s made our life easier; now people book the space, they call us and let us know when they want to hold an event. And it’s been nice and smooth since.

You think these events have contributed in spreading the book culture, you think they have helped in people of Bangalore becoming more conscious of books?

I think they have. they bring notice for the book, they bring notice for the author and it’s a nice place to work and have an engaging conversation. Also, I think when you have a good time in a place you tend to spend more time there and the more time you spend the more likely you are to pick a book and read. At Atta Galatta we have two reading sections – for adults as well as children, people don’t have to pay for that, you can read a book in a corner with a hot cup of coffee. So I feel this promotes reading a lot.

You started in 2012, that’s the time when the digital revolution had swept the publishing world?

Yeah, when we started all the bookstores were closing down. We started on April Fools Day, by the way. I would mail people and the’d say, ‘are you pulling my leg?’

Exactly, so how have you been coping, you think book sales have been affected? what has your experience been like?

I think book sales have been constant. See in India there are too many languages, so there’s literature in all Indian languages and Kindle or any other electronic media will take some time to get all that writing online. Also you’ve gotta pay five thousand Rupees to buy a Kindle and you can get a book for Rs 150 or you can even get them second hand. There’s a stronger likelihood of people buying books.

We have to look at our culture, other places have only english writing, we are a lot more complicated than that. We have  a multitude of languages that we don’t even know. You may call Sanskrit a dying language but we have 500 -1000 titles in the language.

Also, I think books will always be books. People who like the smell and feel of books will always buy them. It’s like you like having Khhichdi when you are unwell, books are like that. They are comfort.

Atta Galatta, Bangalore

Atta Galatta, Bangalore

You think the events helps the bookstore sustain?

Everything helps us.  the cafe does, the events do, the classes do, everything helps because the margin from books is low. It’s difficult to make the rent of the place like that only . And our bread really supports it.

Who’s your most active audience? 

It depends on the event, we have events for every audience so we see a variety of audience here. It depends on what the calendar is populated with. We do a very chaotic planning of events in the sense that we add variety.

Atta Galatta, Bangalore

Atta Galatta, Bangalore

What genres do you think are most popular?

Mythology and mystery, all the way!

Any plans of branching out?

No, we like to spend all our time here, I think it get’s difficult if your attention is divided between places. People have asked us if we’d like to franchise, but I’m not so sure about that. I think the people make the place, so whoever runs the place determines what it’s going to be like.

What has reading meant to you?

I was an only child, very introverted, so books were my constant friend. They helped a lot, filled a lot of gaps that way. It means a lot to me.

5 books you’d recommend all your readers to try?

The Scarlet Pimpernel by Emma Orczy

Tolstoy – Anna Karenina

Rebecca by Daphne Du Maurier

Lord of the Rings 

The Saint‘ Series

Photo Credit – Atta Galatta and Visual Raaga

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