The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Books at the click of a mouse
- Info-kiosk on College Street to help buyers find titles of choice

A tech twist is set to cut short the time spent browsing through Calcutta’s boi para. But only if you want it to.

Instead of spending hours in the countless shops, at the click of a mouse, book-buyers can find the titles they are looking for at An info-kiosk is also to come up at Bankim Chatterjee Street, where busy customers can get the list of the shops that stock the titles they need, on the move.

Both new and second-hand books will be part of the database, to cover College Street, Bankim Chatterjee Street, part of Mahatma Gandhi Road, Tamar Lane, Ramanath Majumdar Lane, Potuatola Lane and Beniatola Lane.

Mayor Subrata Mukherjee is slated to inaugurate the Rs 10-lakh project, initiated by local Trinamul Congress councillor Partha Bose and the Calcutta Publishers and Booksellers Guild, in April.

Around 5,000 bookshops, stalls and publishers have, over the years, blossomed around the student hub. With Calcutta University, Presidency College, Medical College, Sanskrit College, Hindu School and Hare School in the area, books have been a staple.

But apart from academia, College Street and Coffee House have lived on as icons for book-lovers across the city.

“College Street was where I started my political career 35 years ago, and it is a great feeling to give something back to the place,” said mayor Subrata Mukherjee. “The Bankim Chatterjee Street pavement is now being used as a toilet by passers-by. The kiosk should stop this nuisance as well,” said Bose.

The kiosk, in front of University Institute Hall, will sort the inventory by title and the author’s name and is to be available free of cost initially. The software is currently being developed. Exchange rates of currencies, like the US dollar and British pound, will be updated daily.

Information from stores and publishers on the current stock of books has already started flowing in. “A meeting was held in February, at which shop-owners agreed to hand over lists of the new and rare titles in their inventory,” said Bose. The site will also be constantly updated, he assured.

“We also plan to include facts about heritage sites of the locality to allow people easy access to information about the area,” said Sudhanshu Dey of the Calcutta Publishers and Booksellers Guild.

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