From book to boutique: Peshawar’s largest old bookshop gets shelved

A boutique replaces The Old Book Shop to compete with rising fashion retail trend.

Manzoor Ali February 12, 2012


It’s one thing when an ‘old bookshop’ becomes old news. What really stings is when it’s replaced with a spanking new boutique.

A book was, after all, judged by its cover.

Peshawar’s largest old book shop, a one-of-a-kind retreat for book lovers in the city, gave way to a boutique a few days ago to match up with the rising fashion retail trend.

Fortunately, the bookshop, known as the ‘Old Book Shop’, has not entirely vanished and has moved, instead, to a smaller location with a smaller a quantity of its once huge collection of old books.

The bookshop had previously occupied a prominent space in a plaza on the main University Road, near Arbab Road, Peshawar.

Over the years, the University Road has grown into a high-end shopping area with new plazas, dealing in computer and fashion items, springing up like mushrooms.

‘We still have demand’

For years, Old Book Shop remained an attraction for book lovers with its huge collection of second-hand books.

Zahid Khattak, an employee at the book shop told The Express Tribune that he had been working there for the past decade.

However, he was not sure of how long the bookshop has existed, but said that perhaps it was the oldest old bookshop in Peshawar.

Rising trend

The owner, whose family has been long associated with the business of old books in Karachi, Islamabad and Peshawar, decided to try his lucks in the fashion business, Khattak said.

He remained cautious when asked about the leap of faith from books to boutique, saying that the owner could better explain the transition.

The bookshop owner, however, was unavailable for comment.

“There is still quite a good amount of demand for old books and many customers visited the shop,” Khattak said.

He further said that they have reduced general books from their stock and most of the books displayed in the shelves of the new shop were college text books.

However, he added, more books will placed on the shelves over the coming days.

Bookshops endangered?

Last February, Peshawar’s largest book store Saeed Book Bank closed down, after over 40 years, due to lack of business and public interest.

Since then, no new bookshop has opened in the city of over 3 million people.

Published in The Express Tribune, February 12th, 2012.


Dmendoza | 9 years ago | Reply Sure, I can see your point. I absolutely love bnrosiwg a well-stocked bookshop just looking at the titles. Although in most book retailers in M'sia we can't flip the pages because they're usually wrapped in plastic.But books are also perfect for online shopping. That's the reason Amazon was so successful as an online retailer when others failed during the online bust 10 years ago. Amazon sold books and only books when they opened back in mid-90s. All they needed to do was scan the cover, include a synopsis from the back cover, some details on the weight and size of the book, number of pages etc etc. and they're good to go. Offer a discount and a willingness to ship to Malaysia and I became a loyal Amazon customer.You mentioned font selection. We can do that online now. They also allow us to look at a few pages of the book (with Amazon anyway, I'm not sure if we can do that at other online retailers). Plus, not all books published in the West arrive in M'sia. The popular ones sure but there are so many more out there that are only available to us via the internet and that's why 9 times out of 10 I shop online.Thank God for the Internet, huh?
Havi Z Sultan | 9 years ago | Reply

When you have an incredibly low literacy rate of 58% according to government (much lower actually)... this can actually be expected. Of these 58% most are people who can't really read or write but have just learned to sign on a piece of paper. That's what it means to be 'educated' in our country.

Obviously interest in books will wane. Its a time of jahilia. Brainless violence is consuming the country. Who will have time for books?

We need to give education the attention it deserves. Only educated people can read books. The more educated the more interest in book shops.

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