Happy New Books Year

I recently came across Little Men and Jo’s Boys. They took me back to school. The latest edition has a very peppy cover. And I found them in the home of an under-30 professional. The family spends Rs 1,000 at least every-month on printed books. In that generation, I come across so many bright people who proudly say that they don’t read, so the book buyer caught my attention. A 1950s edition of Little Women stood with them.

American author Louisa May Alcott was published in 1886. I know Le Petit Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry has gone into its 70e edition with 140 million copies sold worldwide. That’s because its almost impossible now to get the book in India with the original cover. And all the new covers are blotchy before the preciseness of the original penwork. The writer was an illustrator of the 1940s, so publishers should have kept that in mind and not changed the cover. In most cases, however, it’s the new wrapper that draws the reader first. Penguin has very cleverly reintroduced in India all the classics with new jackets. From Feluda compilations to Louis L’Amour to the Christie omnibuses, everything these days have new clothes.

It means, classics sales have not stopped, though almost every one of them now have electronic versions. That it’s still a pleasure to hold and read a book, get into a Christie murder’s slow-paced laidback atmosphere when one could just as well watch Richard Castle on television. But wait, the Heat series is also a fast and furious read, like Larsen is. Not to forget the Englishman Tarquin Hall and his exquisitely oh-so-Indian samosas on a cold winter night, which takes me to also Ibne Safi, the 20th century Jasusi Duniya writer. Any old wine is good, a new bottle adds to the fizz. Happy New books Year.