So reads the poster that hangs outside the nearly quarter-century-old Shaheen Books in Peshawar, one of the city’s last few retail outfits dedicated to the love of the printed word. Business has been so slow in recent years that it has been reduced to offering a 50 per cent discount. Even so, the owner, Riaz Gul, has had to return a large quantity of stock to the publishers. Very shortly, Shaheen is set to reduce its operations to stationery alone.
The bookstore was opened in 1992 by Gul’s father, Mustafa Kamal, a local man who wanted a line of work that allowed him to indulge in and promote his own passion for reading. Recently, Gul told this newspaper that just 15 years ago, the shop was thronged by people, adults and children, locals and foreigners alike. Once, it held thousands of books of all genres in stock.