Having your old books pile up on shelves can be a nuisance. They draw insects and collect dust. Once the books are read, they just end up occupying space, unless you are an avid reader or a book collector.
If you are the prior, what do you do? Do you throw the books away in the garbage or sell them to hawkers? Why waste when you can exchange your old favourites with new ones?
Bengal Foundation has recently launched a new book store called Bengal Boi in Dhaka’s Dhanmondi area, where book-lovers can get a new book by replacing old two.
One of many features offered by the new bookstore, it is a place for a bibliophile who can read, relax and buy books of choice.
[caption id="attachment_233143" align="aligncenter" width="834"] The new store offers a variety of books, from children to adults, of different genres | Syed Zakir Hossain/Dhaka Tribune
60-year-old Ziaur Rahman has been spending his leisure time at Bengal Boi for the past four consecutive days, when the Dhaka Tribune correspondent met him on Wednesday. The retired bank officer, who lives in Dhanmondi, found this place, where he gets to spend some quiet time and read books.
“Here, I can sip on tea or coffee and read books, as per my mood,” said Rahman, while reading a book.
“The book-store has separate sections for kids, teenagers, and people of all age.
“I will bring my grandchildren here where, I think, they can have fun in their dedicated zones. It would feel like they are in heaven here,” he added.
The bookstore, established in two buildings located in Lalmatia, adjacent to Dhanmondi 27, was inaugurated on November 14. To attract a wider group of people, the store has been divided into four zones - Ishkuler Boi, Akash Kusum, Boithok Khana and Boi-er-Hat.
Akash Kusum, which is dedicated towards kids, is currently the most popular part of the store because readers can relax on comfy divan and sofa, and enjoy reading.
Apart from reading books, the store also lets you buy pen and pencils, wrapping and decorative papers, paint brushes, colours and other types of stationery.
Not limited to a shop, Bengal Boi exclusively organises different events for kids, along with arranging film screenings every weekend.
“Once school ends, I visit the store with my mother to read books. There are many English storybooks. I love pictures and reading stories here,” said 6-year-old Odri Ramiya Rafi.
Ali Ahmed and his friend Al Amin, both college students, came to the store to read novels after their classes ended.
“Humayun Ahmed is my favourite author and I can find all his books here. I love this place because I don’t have to buy a book to read it. I can rather sit here, read a book, pause and then come back and continue reading the next day,” said Ali Ahmed.
Nusrat Jahan, a housewife, lives right beside Bengal Boi.
“Since the store opened, I have read books everyday here. The habit of reading had almost disappeared from my family. Seeing such opportunity provided by Bengal Boi, I started reading again,” she said.
The first floor of the store has been arranged for young people, where they can read old books.
[caption id="attachment_233144" align="aligncenter" width="1024"] The Bengal Boi allows an escape from the mundane life, where bibliophiles can come read, relax and unwind | Syed Zakir Hossain/Dhaka Tribune
“If someone likes a book, they can take it in exchange of two books from their own collection. That's why young people can make this place their own,” said Sohorab Hossain Bappi, executive of the store.
The basement has been designed to sell all kind of books. Any reader, including the physically disabled, can buy books from this store, using their wheelchair facilities.
A coffee shop occupies the veranda, while a kabab shop, Chilekothar Kabab, is currently under construction.
Director General of the Bengal Foundation Luva Nahid Choudhury said: “Our intention is not to operate an ordinary book store. We are very much worried of the degradation of minds in our society. The solution to everything is probably not in a book, but I want to create the desire for reading.”
“We want to create a family-like atmosphere for all children, young people, the elderly, including the busy bees here, so that we can try to engage a readers’ community via books and cultural events,” she added.
The store is also equipped with an open space where publication ceremony, poetry recital, music, and literature reading can also be organised.
Providing an escape from a mundane life, since it is accessible to a wider range of people, Bengal Boi may even become a hub for readers, thinkers and even the busiest of person to relax, unwind and read.