The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Tintin’s terrific, so’s that spy story

“I want Tintin,” the chubby 10-year-old pipes up upon entering the store, immediately gravitating towards the books featuring the famous young detective, and getting engrossed. Tintin is more popular with youngsters than Asterix, and Enid Blyton is still the old favourite — Noddy with the little ones and the famous mysteries of the five-find-outers and dog, the Famous Five and the Secret Seven with the older lot. As for the grown-ups, paperback thrillers will never go out of fashion, particularly with Lord Jeffery Archer behind bars. John Grisham, Wilbur Smith, spy stories on the CIA…

However, non-fiction is now equally, if not more, popular than fiction. Increasingly in demand are self-help books on stress management, in the professional and personal spheres of life, like Who moved my cheese, I moved your cheese and lifestyle and management guru Deepak Chopra’s Ageless body, timeless mind. Also in the book-lovers’ basket are the new-age ‘improve your life’ stuff like Feng Shui.

That is what Mehra’s Wholesalers found at a weeklong book exhibition at Identity Gallery, in Ballygunge. But old classics will never go out of fashion, with Agatha Christie’s Miss Marple omnibus’ selling like hot cakes. Not to forget the fact that The Alchemist is one of the top draws.

“Readers here have a very eclectic taste,” says Krishna Kumar Verma. “They buy all sorts of books. Things that people wouldn’t normally think would do well are generally fairly successful. Like cookery books. We have a whole section on them here, and they have been selling in large numbers.”

So, for relaxation, are Calcuttans experimenting with Thai food and Italian culinary delights for a dinner at home with family and friends' Or do they soak in a warm bath with scary Stephen King for company' Or maybe, they rearrange their furniture and clean house to make it Feng Shui-friendly.

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