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Bookshop holds to tradition in new, intimate space

Saturday, August 31, 2013

The Paperbased Bookshop opened the doors to its new home, in the foyer of The Normandie, during the bookstore’s fourth instalment of their Evening of Tea and Readings last Saturday. The event featured literary readings from five local writers and poets, namely Keith Jardim, Andre Bagoo, Kevin Hosein, Sharon Millar, and Alake Pilgrim, who arrived, armed with their latest work to share with the eager crowd of approximately 40 people.  From Kevin Hosein’s Little Town Secrets, to Andre Bagoo’s Trick Vessels, and The Whalehouse by co-winner of the Commonwealth 2013 Short Fiction Prize, Sharon Millar, the readings presented were everything from interesting to engaging to provocative, and largely indicative of the literary talent hiding in plain sight in T&T.


The Paperbased Bookshop itself specialises in West Indian content, with a wide range of selections sourced on an array of topics by, for and about the West Indian audience. A casual browser will find everything from the latest issue of Arc Magazine, to the newest Etienne Charles CD. In between, they will also find cookbooks, historical novels, photography books, children’s books and West Indian erotica, in addition to award-winning books by foreign authors. The available selection is both wide and deep. The bookshop itself is small and intimate. Books line every inch of the walls and are displayed to maximise their cover value. A customer can easily lose half an hour simply browsing the various titles in all categories. The Evening of Tea and Readings is a tradition that owner Joan Dayal began before the bookstore moved, in an attempt to help promote local writers and their work.


Dayal said: “I opened the shop in 1987, and at first it was more of a newsagent like you usually see in hotel lobbies. But gradually it grew and I noticed that there weren’t many other bookshops that focused on Caribbean books at the time, and I wanted to promote more of our culture and literature.” Dayal says that her ongoing relationships with local authors are symbiotic and mutually beneficial, as authors are eager to engage the public with their work, and their publications are then sold at the bookstore. “I’m still settling into the new location, but I have hopes of bringing in a lot more Caribbean stuff. I used to sell prints from various artists as well, but right now I don’t have the space,” Dayal said. According to Dayal, while the small size of the new space is sometimes a hindrance, customers often insist the space is bigger because the combination of shelving and lighting allows the books to stand out more, highlighting a larger range of their offerings. Dayal is also especially proud of Paperbased’s selection of Caribbean children’s books, as she believes it helps to validate the experiences of local children. Dayal said: “I actively seek out children’s books, because I find that our children only get to read foreign books. I think it’s important that our kids get the chance to identify with their surroundings and see their own experiences reflected in the books they read. It gives them confidence.” The Paperbased Bookstore is now located in their new space in the foyer of The Normandie, at 10 Nook Avenue, St Ann’s, Port-of-Spain.


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