Published On: Fri, Jul 8th, 2016

‘I got positive vibes from government to start this outlet’ 

Gulshan Books Kashmir is the most reliable and trusted name in book business for several decades now. Being the pioneers in the field of book publishing in Kashmir, Gulshan Books is accredited with having first traced, located, subsequently consolidated and published the scattered historical literature and rare material on Kashmir, making it available to scholars, intellectuals, academicians as well as general readers.

The publishing house has brought to light not only vitally imported but curiously forgotten and ignored aspects of the cultural heritage of Kashmir. If writers like Lawrence, Grierson, Robert Thorp, GMD Sufi, etc. have become household names in Kashmir and if today’s generation is familiar with these names, it is largely due to the unrelenting and painstaking endeavours of Gulshan Books which left no stone unturned to bring to the fore the most rare and defining books on Kashmir, Ladakh and Jammu.

Gulshan Books Coffee cum Book Shop at Nehru Park

Gulshan Books has successfully rendered available old and almost extinct books and travelogues on Kashmir at adequately reasonable rates through its impressive marketing outlets and well organised distribution system including an online website The company has instituted awards to encourage talent in the valley and also recognise the valuable contributions of historians, scholars, poets and other luminaries of J&K state in their respective fields. Kashmir Scan caught up with the Chairman of Gulshan Books, Sheikh Ajaz. 

By Ajaz Rashid

  1. KS) Since decades you are in book publishing and sales business. What is the reason for starting book reading-cum-coffee shop?

  1. SA) We all are well aware of the fact that coffee and book reading are interrelated. Not only coffee but sipping tea and other beverages is a usual thing which almost every reader likes while reading a book or a journal. If we look at our history, we can see that in Kashmir too majority of the book readers, writers, poets or authors were habitual to have tea or kehwa while reading or writing.

Although a coffee-cum-book reading shop is a new concept for Kashmiris but this type of culture is very common in foreign counties. We can see these book points in various big cities of India. For years together, we were trying to start this venture but it could not take off. Our wish was to start it at an approachable and calm location but previous governments were not enough supportive. But thanks to the Almighty, we got positive vibes from the present government and our dream came true in the form of Gulshan Books Coffee House and Book Shop at the historical Nehru Park.

  1. KS) How has the response been from people so far?

  1. SA) The response is enormous. In fact, we had not expected this much of footfall. We had in mind that our initiative may take time to attract people. However, since inauguration, we are getting a surprising gathering every day. Though we have set the shop timing from 9:30 AM to 10:30 PM, but many a times we have seen people asking to add more time, especially for late hours. The tourists from in and outside India have also shown an overwhelming response to this venture.

  1. KS) Who are the main readers visiting to your shop? 

  1. SA) The main readers we have seen so far are the youths. They have shown their interest in books focusing our state and even they are fond of classic books. Besides, more than 1500 books in reading section including fiction, historical, culture and conflict etc. We have kept a good collection of multilingual dictionaries and religious books in various languages.

  1. KS) What is so special about this shop?

  1. SA) Besides the availability of thousands of book titles, we have varieties of beverages, coffee, tea, etc here at this shop. we have kept a high resolution digital camera for the use of readers, and that too free of cost. We have the availability of free and unlimited wifi connectivity. We are also planning to start a fleet of modern shikaras which would be having chair seating. In these shikaras, a reader can take books and beverages along to enjoy book reading while sailing on Dal.

  1. KS) Did you find the readers for books published in Kashmiri language?

  1. SA) This is very unfortunate that we have witnessed a negligible number of people interested in books published in Kashmiri languages, although more than 400 titles are available in Kashmiri language, but very less books have been shuffled so far by the readers.

  1. KS) What are your future plans after this venture?

  1. SA) We are in touch with the administration and we are planning to start the same pattern of book cum coffee houses at every tourist destination, so that the locals as well as the tourists find a variety of attractions here in the valley.

  1. KS) Any message for general masses?

  1. SA) The only message I want to convey is that people should benefit from our initiative. We have started this venture for the people and we have kept expensive books available which at times could become unaffordable for a common man to purchase. And here the people can go through a huge collection of books and that too without paying a single penny.


About the Author

Ajaz Rashid

- Ajaz Rashid is a renowned journalist writing on Politics, conflict, Business, Society, Health etc in Jammu and Kashmir over the last 10 years.

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