Chathuri Dissanayake, Reporter

Colombo’s secondhand bookshops, most of which are clustered on a small stretch of road in the heart of the city, may have to relocate when a major government development project in the area nears completion.

COLOMBO, SRI LANKA – A man with a list of book titles enters a secondhand bookshop on a tree-lined street in Colombo, the capital of Sri Lanka.

Bookseller Tharaka Warnasuriya glances at the list and immediately confirms that he has three of the books in his shop. He tells the customer he will find the books and have them ready for him the next day. The man thanks him and moves on to the next shop in his search for the other titles on his list.

Warnasuriya explains that the man had borrowed the books on the list from a public lending library, lost them and now needed to replace them.

“They are old books,” Warnasuriya says as he scans the titles on a shelf at the far end of the shop. “They can’t be bought from regular bookshops because they are no longer in print.”

Textbooks, novels, literary classics, history books, children’s books, comic books and magazines fill the little shop. Although the shop measures only 8 feet (2.4 meters) by 16 feet (5 meters), it holds more than 4,000 books, stacked haphazardly in every available space.

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As Gentrification Encroaches, Owners of Colombo’s Secondhand Bookshops Hope Next Chapter is Cheery (Global press JOURNAL – September 24, 2014)

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