JUST OFF BRIGADE ROAD in central Bangalore is a quiet store, remarkably removed from the nearby bustle. This is Select Book Shop, a name familiar to many book lovers in the city. The store overflows with books old, new and rare, and the two men who will direct you to the treasures within are the owner KKS Murthy, and his son Sanjay.
On a drowsy Sunday afternoon, Murthy sat at his desk and took us through stories of the bookstore’s origins. White-haired and soft-spoken, his chain of memories was occasionally interrupted by customers, most of whom took a moment at the shop’s threshold to adjust their eyes to the relative darkness of the interior after the bright summer sunlight outside.
“My father chose to be a lawyer,” Murthy told us. At the same time, he was “an ardent book addict”, and Select Book Shop was born out of his passion for collecting books, most through auctions. In the 1940s, auctioneers in Bangalore would send word to Murthy’s father KBK Rao in Kurnool whenever books were being disposed of by American or British families leaving the city. “He would leave all his clients to their fate, and come away to Bangalore,” Murthy said. It would be left to his mother to explain to puzzled clients why their lawyer was missing again. “My mother had a lot of problems,” Murthy added with a laugh.