Taking a cue from concept cafés in Japan, book cafés are popping up all over India



Taking a cue from concept cafés in Japan, book cafés are popping up all over India. A blessing to bibliophiles, these places come with their own mini libraries. Sip your cappuccino and grab a bite, while checking out the bookshelves,

    Years ago, hanging out at the local café was a trend we were familiar with only in popular American sitcoms (remember Friends, Sex and the City?) Little did we know that when the coffee shop culture would hit the country, the café would become a buzzing hotspot for an entire generation – from meeting up with friends and having serious business meetings to working on the laptop in solitude. Now, giving a twist to your regular café, reading cafés in metros are on the rise. You can indulge your love for reading or browsing through a library of books, as well as enjoy a tasty snack.
Not your regular coffee shop
Unlike a coffee shop, a reading café is conducive to a more literary environment, lined with mini bookshelves within the space that has a handpicked selection of books. So if you forget to carry a novel with you, there’s always a library to choose from. While your regular café is centred around eating, here, the combination of food, as well as reading, attracts avid readers and bibliophiles. Mumbai-based IT student Sushant Bose, a regular at his neighbourhood book café, shares, “These cafés have a pretty laid-back feel to them, have interesting items on the menu and boast of great book collections. The café I visit has hordes of comics, which I can borrow for an hourly fee or subscribe for a monthly membership. I can read all the comics I want, at a reasonable rate and enjoy good food simultaneously. It has currently become my favourite hangout.”
    No wonder this concept is fast gaining popularity in urban metros like New Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata, Bangalore and Hyderabad, amongst book lovers, who would rather wander the aisles of bookshelves at a café, than a library or standard bookstore. “People want to go to places that have a feel of ‘home away from home’. In fact, like restaurants, even book cafés have started giving attention to the kind of food they serve. They might offer natural and wholesome meals, which are easy to eat, while one has a book in hand. Sandwiches, pastas and light sides make for a good selection,” says Priyanka Malhotra,owner of a well-known café-restaurant in New Delhi.
It nurtures reading
Book cafés provide an ideal space for reading, where people can choose a book and settle down to read over a cup of tea or coffee. This ambience nurtures the habit of reading, offering an intimate place for people, where you have no loud music or TV screens to distract you. The idea behind these places is to create an environment that is introspective yet light and fun. “We want to promote the culture of reading comics, which is not very popular in India. So in our café, we house over 2,500 comics and manga series from all over the world, even those which aren’t available in India. And alongside we have a continental spread of snacks, which our customers can enjoy,” says Utsa Shome, co-founder of book cafés in Mumbai and Bangalore. Books, coffee and food, are you game for this heady combination?
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