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Vow Magazine

Regulars • My cup of tea
DATE: 2 April
Venue: Hotel Yak &Yet

Madhav Lal Maharjan, CEO, Mandala Book Point
Suvani Singh, Co-Proprietor, Quixote's Cove
Sunita Manandhar, Co-Proprietor, United Books
Richa Maharjan, Office Manager, Pilgrim's Book House

Madhavav Lal Maharjan
I never thought that back in 1969, when I started out in the business that Nepalis would one day constitute a major part of my customer pool. Over the years, the readership has increased significantly and I give credit to the 1990 revolution which allowed for the open trading of books in Nepal. So I would say the government and its policies play an integral role in promoting book culture in a country. Mandala Book Point today is a hub of scholars, and we cater books of all kinds, academic and non-academic, but our speciality is humanities and social science. Many of our customers are students. Financial status and the prevailing weak economy of the country are also factors which really impact the book-buying habit. Usually, the book prescribed as a part of curriculum in schools and colleges are expensive since they are books written by foreign authors. In some instances, I have talked with foreign publishers and made them available here at a much cheaper price and in original print. There are a few schools that assign students to read particular books as holiday homework for reviews to be written on them; so students come looking for them during the holidays. The reading habit should be encouraged in schools and giving such assignments is one of the best ways to inculcate this habit in students. Nepali authors should be given due credit as well.

Authors like Samrat Upadhayay, Manjushree Thapa and Narayan Wagle have done much to draw attention to reading. I think they have garnered so much curiosity and momentum that those not traditionally inclined to reading also make their way into the bookstores. There is no doubt that Nepali authors are doing well in the market; however, we still need authors who write books for particular age groups. I have been selling Nancy Drew, Hardy Boys and Enid Blytons since 1969 and these books are still in demand. The reason these books are evergreen is because they are a series, and there is curiosity to know what happens in the next book; they also cater to a certain age group by editing the story accordingly. I think by offering such serial books of our own, we can raise a generation of readers. We need more works like Laxmi Prasad Devkota's Muna Madan and Narayan Wagle's Palpasa Café so that the people get drawn to reading. The media also plays an integral role in promoting the book culture; the mere fact that the demand for a certain book goes up when it is reviewed in one of the leading dailies is testament to this fact.
Currently I am reading The Difficulty of Being Good by Gurcharan Das and Unleashing Nepal by Sujeev Shakya.

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