Next time, Alex, just call me

Alex Beam writes:

I have been e-mailing secondhand bookstores in India, trying to buy the New Delhi edition of Vikram Seth’s 1993 novel, ”A Suitable Boy.” I read somewhere that the Delhi edition used much lighter paper than the subsequently published London and New York volumes. I thought that owning one would provide the necessary incentive to read the highly praised, 1,349-page monster.
But now Jeff Bezos’s Amazon.com may have the solution to my problem: Amazon Pages, which will allow customers to purchase books by the page, starting next year. No more phoning around the subcontinent; I’ll buy the first 50 pages of Seth’s masterwork and see if it holds my interest. Or maybe I’ll buy pages 1,155 to 1,246: ”Someone is stabbed in Brahmpur, someone dies / While private shame is viewed by public eyes.” (Yes, the table of contents, like Seth’s wonderful novel ”Golden Gate,” is in heroic couplets.)

3 comments

  1. I’m in the middle of ploughing through “A Suitable Boy.” This is a suggestion for Alex Beam: get someone to buy a paperback version here in India and send it to you. Works out much better financially at Rs. 500 per book (about US$ 10-12)

  2. Thalassa, welcome back–yup, the ghazal, the haiku, the sonnet, I think he’s fairly eclectic about verse forms. He borrows them freely from everywhere, and I like the fact that he’s willing to even stoop to doggerel on occasion.AFJ raises an interesting issue: many of my friends who live outside India make a point of saving their book-buying sprees for their visits here. Most of the books you see in Indian bookshops are specially discounted for the Indian market; I always suffer from the reverse problem when I shop abroad. (Twenty pounds for one measly paperback, when I could’ve bought five for the same price back home? Tchah.)

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