It will be a lie if I write that you can smell old books if you pass through the old lanes of College Street. But when you see the old books lined up in rows on the pavements, you cannot help but stop and stare. Personally, the first thing I do when I pick up a book to examine it is smell it, even if I attract a dozen looks for that. Sometimes, the smell of books is a factor that decides whether I want to buy it or not.
I am always attracted by the old books. Many people say that they are “used” but I do not particularly like the term. For me, the value of a book becomes greater when it travels hands. Who knows who touched the books? What if this copy once belonged to a famous person? There is an unfathomable magic hiding in those folded, yellow pages. The first page of the book sometimes contains a name or a note by a person who gifted this book to the previous owner. These notes are often so personal and give us a peek into the life of a complete stranger. They help me to construct abstract images in my brain where I imagine a lifestyle of the last owner of my book. It is oddly satisfying. Sometimes when I feel like Sherlock Holmes, I look up the person’s name (if the book has any) on the internet and try to find out more about her or him. It makes me become more intimate with the book as I try to fathom the reactions of the previous owner.
“Ah. This girl is so weird,” you must be wondering by now. Yes I am. You want to know another very important reason why I prefer old books? They are cheap. Heh.
P.S. For people who are wondering what College Street is, it is a place where you can find thousands of books at dirt cheap prices. Last day, I bought the Larson trilogy(of which ‘The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo is a part) at 100 rupees($1.56) per book.