This street in Bangalore is full of bookstores
The garden city – aka Bengaluru – is a cultural hub, a melting pot of people who have migrated from various parts of the country. Many of the people who live here are from the middle class, or are students – basically, those with a knack for reading. On their way home from their offices, colleges and universities, these bookworms prefer to get off at the MG Road subway to spend their evening strolling down Church Street, munching on street food, browsing the many bookstores here and ending their day. with a hot cup of coffee at the legendary Koshy’s at the junction of St. Marks Road, where Church Street ends.
Located in the heart of the city, Church Street is a 750 meter long street with some of the best restaurants in the city and serves as a pilgrimage route for bibliophiles. You can spend hours here looking for vintage classics, old textbooks, used books, and new books from many genres and authors. We’ve compiled a list of bookstores you should never miss when you’re on the street full of stories.
When you get off at MG Road metro station and walk on the sidewalk towards Brigade Road, you can spot this heritage building on your left, established in 1897 in Bengaluru. Higginbotham’s is the oldest chain of bookstores in the country – it was established in Chennai in 1844 as a small bookstore on the ground floor with the manager living on the first floor.
It has a vast assortment of genres and is also a haven for stationery lovers. The architecture shows the influence of the colonial era. Higginbotham’s has an enviable collection of books on a variety of subjects, ranging from religion and spirituality to culture, crime, cuisine, contemporary fiction, and more. Due to its extensive collection of textbooks for schools and undergraduate courses, it is also a favorite among students in the city.
Address: 74, Mahatma Gandhi Rd, Haridevpur, Shanthala Nagar, Ashok Nagar, Bangalore, Karnataka 560001
Entering Church Street from Brigade Road, you will find Book Home on your left, opposite Starbucks. It was founded after the Covid-19 pandemic by Chander and is currently run by his daughter Poongualali aka “Poo”. She is rather cheerful and a fellow bibliophile and has shared with us the changes in customer demographics, and taste is one of the new entrants to the Church Street biblioverse. “When we started we had a lot of fiction readers,” she says, “but now we have people who are more into happiness and wealth.” She attributes this shift to the pandemic causing people to reassess their mental peace and financial strength. “Everyone now wants to make a quick buck from trading or invest in their happiness by beating their depression. The pandemic has restructured people’s priorities, and we’re here to cater to their changing tastes.”
The interior of the bookstore is nice and relaxing using bright and vibrant colors. An interesting point to note is that the books are listed in alphabetical order, so it is easy for customers to visit a particular book that they may have last seen. “Books are a comfort to people who are depressed or generally jaded with their lives, and despite the digital revolution, there will always be people who will love the feel and smell of a new book in their hands,” says Poo.
Address: #1, Church St, opposite Starbucks, Haridevpur, Shanthala Nagar, Shivaji Nagar, Bangalore, Karnataka 560001
Flower Book House
Mayi Gowda is a famous name among book circles in Bangalore. He is, after all, the owner of one of Bangalore’s most successful and famous bookstore chains, Blossoms Book House. “Before, I had a regular job, but after 10 to 15 days, I left to pursue my dream of opening a bookstore,” he says with his charming, contagious smile. Blossoms now has a second store above Matteo Cafe in Church Street. They have an extensive collection of books in multiple genres, and even rare books and collectibles. They separated the books into genre-based sections to make this collection of over 50,000 books manageable.
Gowda sees several changes among current readers and those who frequented his store 20 years ago when he started. “When we opened in January 2002 we usually had older people reading PG Wodehouse, Arthur Riley and Sidney Sheldon. Now we have people who are more inclined towards coming-of-age fiction. We have many more young people coming. Our comics and graphic novels section has also seen a lot of people, thanks to the success of superhero movies. He adds that his bookstores have resisted the entry of the Kindle and online shopping apps, and that people have shown their resilience by buying books after handpicking them regardless. “Books give people ideas and ignite their dreams, so keep reading and be happy.”
Address: #2, 3rd Floor, Prestige Shopping Complex, Church St, above Matteo Coffea, Bengaluru, Karnataka 560001
The Book Hive
When you walk down a little further towards the Church Street gate of the MG Road underground, you will find The Book Hive on your right. Founded in 2017 by Keshava R., this place has a unique collection of comics, including manga, and a good section of used books. Genres like science fiction, non-fiction books (political reads, biographies, history), management, and business-focused books can be found in abundance at The Book Hive. They offer a 20% discount on all new and used books.
The Book Hive is home to many well-known books and publications, ranging from Charles Dickens’ Penguin Classics to contemporary authors. “We can get you any book you want. We encourage you to keep reading,” says Keshav Gowda. “Keep supporting independent bookstores.”
Address: 52, Church St, Haridevpur, Shanthala Nagar, Ashok Nagar, Bangalore, Karnataka 560001
“Rare and out of print books is our USP,” says Krishna Gowda, owner of The Bookworm. You can find this gem on your left after crossing the Church Street exit from the tube. The cute and small exterior of the green matchbox is quite deceiving. As you walk in, there’s enough space to take you on a treasure hunt for books, including those whose new editions haven’t come out in years, if not decades. “About 50% of our books are made up of these rare gems, and our greatest satisfaction when an avid collector or book hunter finds a book in our store that they may have been looking for for a long, long time. Nothing don’t please me anymore, said Gowda.
Another cool feature of this store is the library-style book return system. “A buyer can return their book to us after reading it at any time, and we’ll refund them with 50% store credit that they can use to buy other books they like.” Her advice to young readers: “Read a book every day for 30 minutes before bed. It helps to build a strong and healthy mind.
Address: BPL building. Front, Brigade Gardens, No 62, Church St, Shanthala Nagar, Ashok Nagar, Bangalore, Karnataka 560001
Goobe’s Book Republic
Towards the end of Church Street, if you are heading towards St. Marks Road, you will see a small sign on the sidewalk to the right. It’s the famous Goobe’s. The bookstore is tucked away in the basement of the building which you could almost miss if you are not actively looking for it. The intriguing name translates to “owl” in Kannada. The owner of Goobe’s Book Republic says the store was established on April 1, 2009, which is April Fool’s Day.
Interestingly, an owl is also a pejorative for a foolish person, which gives a bit of an idea behind the name of the store. Additionally, the owl is culturally a bird known for its wise and nocturnal nature. Goobe’s Book Republic plans to keep its reader reading its indomitable books all night and make it wiser when he gets up the next morning. Although they may make a fool of themselves when they go to morning meetings, not realizing whether it is day or night. Such is the contagious nature of the books they provide.
The majority of the crowd that comes to the store, from teenagers to people in their thirties, are interested in science fiction or non-fiction these days, including self-help and mental health books, Menezes said. Book prices start from Rs 25, and won’t put a dent in your wallet. You can buy, sell and rent books while spending hours in this store-library, reading peacefully and disappearing into the world of books.
Address: Basement, 11, 1, Church St, near KC DAS, Bangalore, Karnataka 560001