Another bookstore closes in Peshawar

PESHAWAR - In the wake of prolonged wave of militancy and decline in book reading culture, another prominent book house of Peshawar named as Shaheen Book House has winded up its business in University Town Peshawar.

Talking to The Nation, the owner of Shaheen Book House Mustafa Kamal said that his father Master Khan Gul (late) started this business in 1945 when he resigned as a teacher and started publishing books. He was also publisher of school textbooks, general books, Pashto and English books.

Earlier his book house was one of the prominent Kutab Khana in Kabli Gate Peshawar. He informed that the current bookstore in University Town Peshawar was established in 1991 when notable people used to visit his shop for buying books and other reading material. Due to government’s apathy, no step has been taken for the promotion of education like developed countries that lead to intellectual bankruptcy.

“The students are getting reading material from their schools and universities on inflated prices, but their tendency toward reading general books is extremely poor. Our monthly expense of this shop is Rs 0.2 million while our profit is less than the total expenditure,” he uttered.

Riaz Gul Khattak, son of Mustafa Kamal said that his grandfather had great attachment with books and publishing work and that is why he had joined this business.  He added that they are not interested in other businesses like cosmetic, clothes and they will hardly start other work after quitting book selling.

“It is our misfortune that reading culture is vanishing with each passing day and people are busy in mobile and internet to read unnecessary things. Gone are the days when there was great rush in bookstores and now people mostly rely on ready-made notes of the teachers who earn huge money within the premises of school and college,” he deplored.

"Those who love reading books have no money, and those with money are busy in other activities," he said.

He said that from 1991 to 2005, their business was at peak and the elite class used to visit Shaheen Book House. However, with the passage of time poor law and order situation has forced the educated and elite class to shift to other cities, which greatly affected the book selling business in Peshawar.

When asked about the income and expenses of the shop, he informed that they are paying Rs 0.2 million rent, due to low sale it is hard to earn both houses expenses and shop expenses which forced them to close this business.

He further said that a letter has been written to various publishers to take back their reading material and existing stock while sale offer has been announced up to 50 per cent on the available stock of books.

It was not first book house in Peshawar which has closed its business due to poor sale as earlier to this largest book house of the city Saeed Book Bank also took similar decision owing to security concern and poor sale in the market.

Other leading book houses of the city including University Book Agency situated in Qissa Khwani Bazar and London Book House situated in Saddar and their owners have also expressed their grievances regarding book reading culture.

They said that it has become a rare feature now a days that the people visit the bazaars and shops to buy books because all the new and trendy books are easily available on the internet with no wastage of money and time.

The loss of the bookstores has not only deprived Peshawar of books. But, it equally deprived the city's intellectuals of places to meet and feel capable enough to resist extremism.

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