Despite facing stiff competitions from e-books and doorstep deliveries, this 76-year-old bookstore is continuing to stand tall in business and buck the trend.
Started in 1942 by late Bichitra Narayan Dutta Baruah, the Lawyer’s Book Stall (LBS) located at Panbazar in Guwahati is an institution by itself because of its pioneering work in the field of publishing.
Young Bichitra Narayan, who was an advocate in Gauhati High Court, quit his legal profession in 1942 to become a full time bookseller. He set up the bookshop and named it after his former profession—Lawyers.
“Although my grandfather Bichitra Narayan was a practicing advocate in Gauhati High Court, our family has a legacy of business. Our family had started book business in Nalbari in 1924,” says Bhaskar Dutta Baruah, the third generation owner of LBS.
Bhaskar says his grandfather did not enjoy the legal profession much and just all of a sudden he decided not to continue with his this profession.
The bookshop had mainly catered to the needs of law students in its early days, but soon diversified to other subjects.The store had a separate section for books on law, a legacy the Dutta Baruahs maintained for several decades.
Son Khagendra Narayan took over the book business from his father Bichitra Narayan in 1970 and gave a new dimension to the publishing house.
It was after Khagendra Narayan taking charge, the bookstall became famous as a place where novel ideas took shape in a daily adda of celebrated writers and intellectuals.
Eminent Assamese short story writer and Sahitya Akademi Award winner late Saurav Kumar Chaliha, who was a close friend of Khagendra Narayan (Bhutu), was a regular visitor to the bookshop.
Apart from introducing many writers of the state, LBS also published The Pronouncing Anglo-Assamese Dictionary by Budhindranath Bhattacharyya. The dictionary was once an inevitable part of every Assamese reader since no other such dictionary was available in the market during that time.
It has also published number of books written by Chaliha and renowned scholar Hiren Gohain.
Bhaskar, who now looks after the business, set up a readers forum in 2009 and published a newsletter titled Book Update.
A quaint bookshop with a large array of books, LBS is also facing the strain faced by other bookshops. But what is certain is that the legacy and vision of Dutta Baruah family will continue to live on through this quaint shop, which for many is more than just a bookstore– a place to think, engage and contemplate.