Buying Books In Karachi.

A few comments on my previous post, a picture sent to me by Ramla and a book that I bought a few days back all motivated me to write yet another book related post.

If you want a book in Karachi there are a few things you have to keep in mind. If are looking for books on art, music, photography, modeling, or a novels, magazines, ect and you are willing to pay a good price for it then Liberty Book is you place to be.

Liberty book shops are situated in Dolman Mall, Tariq road and park towers, Clifton. The have the latest and largest collection of foreign books. Their shops are well organized and they have all original books obviously they are a bit expensive and not every one can afford spending so much on books.

But don’t worry there are cheaper alternatives. Next in the line is Paramount Books. Situated behind main Tariq Road this book store is huge, they have millions of books. From books for kindergarteners to college students, Books on art, craft, media, medical science, computer studies, you name it they have it. But there is a glitch, the books are not very well organized and it might take you an hours to find the book you want, although they have everything computerized but still they take hours just to tell if the book you want is available or not, also very recently launched foreign books are missing.

For all Oxford publications the Oxford University press outlets in Dolman Mall and park towers offers 10% discounts they also have a discount shelves where you can buy selected books at less then half the original price.

But if you are looking for books at throwaway prices, there is Khori Garden, situated near Bolton market this place is haven for book lovers. Old books from all over the world come to this place and believe me you can find a book on any topic, cook books, computer studies, business studies, art craft, architecture medical everything is available here. obviously these books are not at all organized but the book sellers will show you the required book when you ask him. Visiting this place well dressed will be a big mistake, you have to be dressed in simple clothes, wear slippers and show as if you belong to a lower middle class family, that is one of the tricks I use to get a good bargain.
The book I purchased a few days back.
If Khori Garden is too faraway for you, you will find book sellers on push carts on the main university road near expo centre just opposite Musjid Bait-ul-Mukaram. They have a good verity of novels, local publications, law books, art related books, poetries, ect and This place also has an added attraction, as all the books are second hand, you have a good chance that you might find a book with an added historic value like a few days back I found a book presented to the renowned artist Bashir Mirza by the Goethe Institute, Karachi, in recognition of his services for being a judge in a painting competition in December 1983. These book sellers can also arrange books for you but don’t ever make a mistake of giving them too much money in advance because some of them are not permanent sellers and often disappear once they collect enough money in advance payments. I have once lost Rs.600 in a similar way so I have learned my lesson the hard way and obviously it will be foolish to visit one of these shops well dressed.

The Jumbo Book sale is another low cost option if you are looking for low cost books, at Jumbo you can find new paper back editions of many books, the hard back editions are often second hand and very few in number. Most books at Jumbo Book Sale are original but they do keep a few pirated books mostly books for students are pirated. Jumbo has a fixed price policy and almost all the books bear a price tag but you can still bargain, and they do listen to you. Jumbo Book Sale is currently at Heydery Markey, they work in a makeshift tent and move from area to area around the city.
Photo Credits: Ramla
Now some tips For those who are planning to visit the International Book fair 2006 at expo centre. As pointed out by Ramla, last year a few books were over priced and vanguard is good at doing that so try to check for original price tags as when you are being offered a discount. If Oxford University press is offering 10% discount it is the same they offer the whole year at all their outlets so don’t think they are doing you a favor but Do visit Oxford University Press Stall, they are doing a wonderful job promoting Pakistani writers and our local culture around the world, there books are not too expensive and in case they offer more then 10% you don’t want to miss this chance.
The best thing is to buy foreign books direct from their stall, A visit to paramount stall will be good because in such exhibitions only, they look organized.

Reading is a very good habit sadly in our country some books like ” Phaloon Say Illaj” offering home remedies and cures, I know they even claim to have found a cure for cancer but Please don’t trust such books, and when choosing a book look for the writers credibility. A renowned writer, feminist and social worker Fehmida Raiz, when came to know that her books are being pirated said she was happy that at least people are reading her and learning from her writings. For a nation which is blessed with such writers who write for the people and not for the money, and where books cost almost as much as the newspaper, it would be a shame to complain that books are over priced. We never complain when we pay 1500 for a dinner or we happily pay 500 for a Concert but when it comes to a book costing 1500 we simply say it’s too expensive and don’t tell me people living in areas like New Karachi never spend 1500 on a dinner, don’t tell me the under privileged don’t spent fortunes over Air Conditioners, and VCD players and please don’t tell me that Air conditioner is a necessity, because I am living with out one and I am happy, well and alive but yes books are important, to educate you, enable you to think in a better way, to provide you with knowledge and to widen you vision, books are knowledge and knowledge is necessity.

34 Comments so far

  1. Moiz Kazmi (unregistered) on December 13th, 2006 @ 2:18 am

    whatta lovely post :)
    After ages i read something as good as this on KMB !
    Not only the post is interesting + its very informative :)
    Cheers for Jamash :D

  2. Adnan K (unregistered) on December 13th, 2006 @ 2:31 am

    Great post Jamash!

    Im not in Karachi anymore but remember making many a visit to Khori garden and finding some very rare books on a great many diverse subjects/interests.

    I would consider your effort a very successful one if even a few people discover new sopts to get books as you would have advanced our pursuit of knowledge.
    Great Job!!

  3. ash (unregistered) on December 13th, 2006 @ 2:49 am

    I love karachi’s indie book scene. Whatever happened to mr old books and tit bits? they were always a steal.

  4. Feet Maestro (unregistered) on December 13th, 2006 @ 3:04 am


  5. SS (unregistered) on December 13th, 2006 @ 3:45 am

    For foreign second hand books check it out at Used books some times cost less than £1. However, the despatch charges take them to a different level.

    The great city of Karachi accommodates the need of every segment of our society even when it comes to finding a foreing book. What a great city Karachi is…….

  6. MB (unregistered) on December 13th, 2006 @ 6:05 am

    @SS :

    I guess this is the correct LINK you were talking about.

  7. Raja Islam (unregistered) on December 13th, 2006 @ 8:31 am

    u missed the urdu bazar :)

  8. Abdul Sami (unregistered) on December 13th, 2006 @ 9:53 am

    The original price looks to me like $11+ if i m not wrong thats ~77 Rs. and Vanguard is charging Rs. 280 that is 260% more. wow!

  9. mansoor (unregistered) on December 13th, 2006 @ 9:59 am


    Mr. Old books is still there at clifton. Plus, there are a couple of rehri wala’s with books there too now. Mr. old books has even started up a second store somewhere, i think its somewhere in defence.

    Secondly, a very good resource to get books is Sagar Book Shop at clifton (near Motta’s Supermarket, or Flurry Bakery) and they arrange books for you too. Prices are not too different from those in Urdu bazaar, and they’ve got a nice collection of original books as well.

  10. Kashif (unregistered) on December 13th, 2006 @ 10:28 am

    There are plenty of rehri walas opposite Bait-ul-Mukarram masjid, near hasan square. You can find good books (though not the latest ones) from there.

  11. Zag (unregistered) on December 13th, 2006 @ 10:42 am

    another option is the online store of Liberty store where you can get 15% discount on all orders if you pay by any credit card and 20% discount if you pay via citibank credit card along with free delivery in Karachi.

    Also a great source is the Sunday bazar in DHA where you can find great bargains.

    oh, and there’s also the Liberty strore’s Bargain Basement at the BBQ Tonight branch of their store for some big discounts. Plus they also have couches there and you can sit and read…

  12. kidal (unregistered) on December 13th, 2006 @ 11:24 am

    Abdul Sami, at the current $1 to Rs.60 exchange rate, $11 is equivalent to Rs.666

  13. ana (unregistered) on December 13th, 2006 @ 12:46 pm

    excellent post,,,
    u seems to me a true book love,,,
    i m planning to go to book exhibition tomorrow,,,any pass required today,,??

  14. Ramla A. (unregistered) on December 13th, 2006 @ 4:34 pm

    Ah, the awaited posts!

    A post on book recommendations – especially from the visitors of the Fair – would be awesome!

    But I’ll suggest my picks here: last year, I found the A BRIEF INTRODUCTION series by Oxford – Rs. 190 per book before discount. This series which now has many titles – BI to History, Emotion, Terrorism, Architecture, Music, etc. etc. – has generated positive reviews from its readers. I picked up LOGIC, LINGUISTICS, EMOTION, and PHILOSOPHY last year. They have many more titles by now.

    Another recom are the Indian publishers: cheap books, good variety. The Islamic titles they has generated much interest. Ferozsons also had a sizable presence. Lately, they have published many interesting titles; once again, their Islamic section generated interest.

    ALSO – the Book Fair has stalls by educational consultants. May be useful?

    Last year it wasn’t a great place if one was looking for academic/ syllabi titles. More of literary fair.

  15. Farhan (unregistered) on December 13th, 2006 @ 5:15 pm

    I use limewire to get my books ( Patterson , Clancy , Cussler , Grisham , Archer ) either in PDF or Lit format which I read on my Phone or PDA , my current library consists of more than 500 books

    If i want to read on paper i go to my Thela wala on Bahadurabad in front of Zuabidas , excellent customer service ( takes book back after a day if I don;t like it ) and also find books for me without any advance has a good collection of Mad magazine although some times he get Australian edition .

    At bahadurabad chowrangi there is also another bookwala for magazines behind the newspaper atand near Darbar-e-Sherren / Ahmed mithai but he mostly deal in Maxim , FHM so not a good place to go with you kid while searching for Mad Magazine ( he also have some Gay magazines on display inside the shop for people with alternative lifestyle )

    Another good magazine / book store is adjacent to Time Store near stadium , a good collection of Robb’s Report and Dupont Registry , Car & Driver , very few mad magazines , also plenty of urdu novels and pirates novels don’t venture too deep inside where the magazines are on the floor will save you from a lot of embarassement

    For those who want to read urdu digest / Kiran / Shama / Jasosi Digest etc on cheap the book store on the corner of ISlamia College / Banori Masjid ( New town ) turn offers them at Rs 200 / mth for unlimited number of visits ( max 2 Risale per visit ) but you have to deposit Rs 500 with him

  16. Original-Anon (unregistered) on December 13th, 2006 @ 5:30 pm

    Great post and comments. I am excited to see so many book lovers out here.
    Yay, Big Jay, way to go!
    Oh, do correct the ‘nasality’ and also where you wrote ‘books bare a price tag’ should be ‘bear a price tag’. I do beleive your spell-check is playing tricks on you:)

  17. Raza (unregistered) on December 13th, 2006 @ 6:15 pm

    I see you read RUMI. Is it fashion in Pakistan or what?

  18. Ali Mohsin (unregistered) on December 13th, 2006 @ 6:49 pm

    Nice Post!!!!!…..Bro, you missed Urdu Bazar as mentioned by Raja, besides book bazaar on Sunday at Frere Gardens. YOu can get ur hand on latest books at frere garden. and there is Liberty at sheraton too..

  19. Captain's Log (unregistered) on December 13th, 2006 @ 7:02 pm

    @Farhan, I have some(180+) very colorful magazines of last 3 years (some were never opened, got annual subscription but did not have enough time). Would it be possible that I could sell them in Karachi and make some of my air fare? I am in US and some body told me that those magzines are in great demand in Pakistan.

  20. Farhan (unregistered) on December 13th, 2006 @ 8:18 pm

    What magazines do you have , avg price I pay is Rs 150 for Rob’s report 2 mth old , the same for Dupont Registry and Rs 50 for Mad all are usually a couple of mths old

  21. Jamash (unregistered) on December 13th, 2006 @ 9:55 pm

    You are right original-anon, I hate my Office OneNote :D, but I can’t complain when I get it for less than a quarter dollar.

    Thank you for the corrections :)

    and Thank you all for such wonderful comments.

  22. Raheel (unregistered) on December 13th, 2006 @ 9:56 pm

    Kori Garden is dead. They don’t have much now and it isnt cheap anymore.

  23. Sufi (unregistered) on December 13th, 2006 @ 10:35 pm

    My favorite books for the year were:
    – Freakonomics: A Rogue Economist Explores the Hidden Side of Everything
    – New Ideas from Dead Economists: Revised Edition by Todd G. Buchholz and Martin Feldstein

    Books of the year 2006 by Economist.

    – Alexis de Tocqueville: Prophet of Democracy in the Age of Revolution
    By Hugh Brogan. Profile; 704 pages; £30. To be published in America by Yale University Press in March
    – Mellon: An American Life
    By David Cannadine. Knopf; 743 pages; $35. Allen Lane; £30
    – The Life of George Mackay Brown: Through the Eye of a Needle
    By Maggie Fergusson. John Murray; 368 pages; $45 and £25
    – Passionate Minds: The Great Love Affair of the Enlightenment
    By David Bodanis. Crown; 312 pages; $24.95. Little, Brown; £17.99
    – A Royal Affair: George III and his Scandalous Siblings
    By Stella Tillyard. Random House; 384 pages; $26.95. Chatto & Windus; £20
    – Thomas Hardy: The Time-Torn Man
    By Claire Tomalin. Viking; 512 pages; £25. To be published in America by Penguin Press in January

    – Khrushchev’s Cold War: The Inside Story of an American Adversary
    By Aleksandr Fursenko and Timothy Naftali. Norton; 670 pages; $35 and £22.99
    – The Battle for Spain: The Spanish Civil War 1936-1939
    By Antony Beevor. Penguin Press; 352 pages; $17. Weidenfeld & Nicolson; £25
    – Twelve Days: The Story of the 1956 Hungarian Revolution
    By Victor Sebestyen. Pantheon; 368 pages; $26. Weidenfeld & Nicolson; £20
    – The Wages of Destruction: The Making and Breaking of the Nazi Economy
    By Adam Tooze. Allen Lane; 832 pages; £30. To be published in America by Viking in March
    – The Grand Slave Emporium: Cape Coast Castle and the British Slave Trade
    By William St Clair. Profile Books; 288 pages; £16.99
    – The Trial of Queen Caroline: The Scandalous Affair that Nearly Ended a Monarchy
    By Jane Robins. Free Press; 384 pages; $27.50. Published in Britain as “Rebel Queen: The Trial of Caroline”; Simon & Schuster; ¬£20

    Politics and current affairs:
    – Dangerous Nation: America’s Place in the World from its Earliest Days to the Dawn of the Twentieth Century
    By Robert Kagan. Knopf; 544 pages; $30. Atlantic Books; £25
    – The Looming Tower: Al-Qaeda and the Road to 9/11
    By Lawrence Wright. Knopf; 480 pages; $27.95. Allen Lane; £20
    – Guant√°namo and the Abuse of Presidential Power
    By Joseph Margulies. Simon & Schuster; 322 pages; $25
    – The One Percent Doctrine: Deep Inside America’s Pursuit of its Enemies Since 9/11
    By Ron Suskind. Simon & Schuster; 384 pages; $27 and £18.99
    – Sacred Causes: The Clash of Religion and Politics, from the Great War to the War on Terror
    By Michael Burleigh. HarperCollins; 576 pages; $27.95. HarperPress; £25
    – China Shakes the World: A Titan’s Rise and Troubled Future-and the Challenge for America
    By James Kynge. Houghton Mifflin; 288 pages; $25. Weidenfeld & Nicolson; £18.99
    – In Spite of the Gods: The Rise of Modern India
    By Edward Luce. Doubleday; 352 pages; $26. Little, Brown; £20
    – The J Curve: A New Way to Understand Why Nations Rise and Fall
    By Ian Bremmer. Simon & Schuster; 320 pages; $26 and £17.99
    – Seize the Hour: When Nixon Met Mao
    By Margaret MacMillan. John Murray; 384 pages; ¬£25. To be published in America as “Nixon and Mao: The Week That Changed the World” by Random House in February
    – White Man’s Burden: Why the West’s Efforts to Aid the Rest Have Done So Much Ill and So Little Good
    By William Easterly. Penguin Press; 448 pages; $27.95. Oxford University Press; £16.99
    – The Trouble with Africa: Why Foreign Aid Isn’t Working
    By Robert Calderisi. Palgrave Macmillan; 256 pages; $24.95. Yale University Press; £18.99

    Economics & Business
    – The Wal-Mart Effect: How the World’s Most Powerful Company Really Works-and How It’s Transforming the American Economy
    By Charles Fishman. Penguin Press; 304 pages; $25.95. Allen Lane; £12.99
    – Myself and Other More Important Matters
    By Charles Handy. William Heinemann; 213 pages; £18.99
    – Joe Wilson and the Creation of Xerox
    By Charles D. Ellis. John Wiley; 396 pages; $27.95 and £18.99
    – Mavericks at Work: Why the Most Original Minds in Business Win
    By William C. Taylor and Polly LaBarre. William Morrow; 336 pages; $26.95

    Science & Techonology:
    – The Revenge of Gaia: Earth’s Climate Crisis and the Fate of Humanity
    By James Lovelock. Basic Books; 176 pages; $25. Allen Lane; £16.99
    – The God Delusion
    By Richard Dawkins. Houghton Mifflin; 416 pages; $27. Bantam; £20
    – The Omnivore’s Dilemma: A Natural History of Four Meals
    By Michael Pollan. Penguin Press; 464 pages; $26.95. Bloomsbury; £12.99
    – The Trouble with Physics: The Rise of String Theory, the Fall of a Science, and What Comes Next
    By Lee Smolin. Houghton Mifflin; 416 pages; £26. Allen Lane; £20

    Fiction & Memoirs:
    РSuite Française
    By Irène Némirovsky. Knopf; 416 pages; $25. Chatto & Windus; £16.99
    – The Emperor’s Children
    By Claire Messud. Knopf; 431 pages; $25. Picador; £14.99
    – House of Meetings
    By Martin Amis. Knopf; 288 pages; $23. Jonathan Cape; £15.99
    – Everyman
    By Philip Roth. Houghton Mifflin; 192 pages; $24. Jonathan Cape; £10
    – Running for the Hills: Growing Up on My Mother’s Sheep Farm in Wales
    By Horatio Clare. Scribner; 288 pages; $24. John Murray; £14.99
    – The Meaning of Night: A Confession
    By Michael Cox. Norton; 672 pages; $25.95. John Murray; £17.99
    – The Ruby in her Navel
    By Barry Unsworth. Nan A. Talese; 416 pages; $26. Hamish Hamilton; £17.99
    – Seven Lies
    By James Lasdun. Norton; 224 pages; $23.95. Jonathan Cape; £14.99
    – Wizard of the Crow
    By Ngugi wa Thiong’o. Pantheon; 784 pages; $30. Harvill Secker; ¬£18.99

    Culture & digressions
    – On Opera
    By Bernard Williams. Yale University Press; 192 pages; $30 and £19.99
    – Journey Through Great Britain
    By Iqbal Ahmed. Coldstream; 190 pages; £9.95
    – Will & Me: How Shakespeare Took Over My Life
    By Dominic Dromgoole. Allen Lane; 304 pages; £17.99. To be published in America by Pegasus Books in May
    – District and Circle
    By Seamus Heaney. Farrar, Straus and Giroux; 96 pages; $20. Faber and Faber; £12.99
    – The Yellow House: Van Gogh, Gauguin, and Nine Turbulent Weeks in Arles
    By Martin Gayford. Little, Brown; 352 pages; $24.99. Viking; £18.99
    – The Cloudspotter’s Guide: The Science, History and Culture of Clouds
    By Gavin Pretor-Pinney. Perigee; 304 pages; $19.95. Sceptre; £12.99
    – Casting a Spell: The Bamboo Fly Rod and the American Pursuit of Perfection
    By George Black. Random House; 272 pages; $23.95

    More on that:

  24. Sufi (unregistered) on December 13th, 2006 @ 10:37 pm

    Jamash, OneNote is avaible freely on the internet :P

  25. Haseeb A (unregistered) on December 13th, 2006 @ 11:23 pm

    A wonderful post with equally wonderful comments
    Anyone here listens to audiobooks? Although very few a available here legally, you can download them. (I listen to pirated audio books. Have loads of em ;), you can find them using torrents, xdcc scripts on miRC etc etc)

    Sufi: heard freakonomics, but it was too over-hyped. Have a couple of more econo books but didnt get the time.

  26. Haseeb A (unregistered) on December 13th, 2006 @ 11:26 pm

    @Captains Log: Do you have any editions of Popular Science or Popular Mechanics?
    They retail for around Rs. 40 a copy here (old).

  27. ash (unregistered) on December 13th, 2006 @ 11:27 pm

    Great suggestions sufi, i have just two but they are must reads
    No God but God by Reza Aslan and The Future of freedom by Fareed Zakaria

  28. Sufi (unregistered) on December 14th, 2006 @ 1:55 am

    Definately getting “the Future of Freedom”.. only 10 $ at Amazon.

  29. Da-Man (unregistered) on December 14th, 2006 @ 3:01 am

    Great Post Jamash and great comment Sufi. Lovers of books automatically get my respect.

  30. Dee (unregistered) on December 14th, 2006 @ 6:51 am

    Hi all, I am just wondering if we have on-line libraries(central libraries)where you can loan books.I know one is Allama Iqbal urdu cyber library.
    or if its possible karachiattes can set up account with world wide libraries for book swapas and etc?.just a thought.
    Wonderful post.

  31. Raza (unregistered) on December 14th, 2006 @ 9:23 am

    Farhan, reading books on PDA or mobile is a great idea. do u use some software which can open such files or search via keywords etc or use native file browser to execute document files? I also wonder how much memory did it take to store 500 books in a PDA.

    there is no online/digital library but it was being planned by govt and nobody knows the current status. its not an easy task, even google couldnt manage to bring all world libraries online.

    by the way is limewire a client of gnutella networks or use seprate network like kazaa?

  32. wasiq (unregistered) on December 14th, 2006 @ 9:30 am

    thanks for the blank cheque….i prefer the printed ones…..BTW, when will the kabuli be released….?lol.

  33. Farhan (unregistered) on December 14th, 2006 @ 10:03 am

    @ Raza – Limewire is based on Gnutella client and most of the files are virus free and it also allows you to search for author name , on average the book size in Lit format is 300-500 kb , I am using microsoft reader on my Imate ( 1gb Sd) and Mobi Reader on my nokia E70 (2GB mini sd) to read the books , the fonts are small but it allows me to read at night, on airplane , in traffic jams etc , you can download Lit files and convert them to html through CLIT ( Convert Lit Freeware ) and than to any format you like

    For Libarary , i get this Home Express coupon newsletter every month , they have some book club of sorts where you can donate 10 books and can also borrow books others have donated they operate only on Saturday between 3 – 5 and is somewhere in Defence .

    @ Sufi , The Economist offers free books for filling out their survey forms , I have recently receveid Ten Faces of Innovation , they offer one survey every month which takes around 5 min and offers the choice between 3 books , the retail value of each book is approx 10 Uk pounds and the shipping is free . I quote from their email

    ” Dear Participant,

    Thank you for opting to be informed of executive surveys from the Economist Intelligence Unit. You are cordially invited to take part in our latest survey “Building global innovation networks”, conducted on behalf of IDA Ireland.

    The traditional approach to research and development has become less effective due to recent trends such as rapidly evolving customer preferences, shortening product cycles and intensifying competition. A new approach is emerging as companies are adopting a more collaborative method, involving partnerships, joint ventures or alliances with a number of smaller firms.

    This survey explores current challenges around innovation, and assesses the extent to which companies are building “global innovation networks” to increase the flexibility, agility and overall success of their research and development processes. To access, please click here (or paste URL into your browser):

    To show our appreciation, all respondents will receive a free copy of the survey results and the choice of a gift book: “Pocket world in figures 2007” from Economist Books, or “Body count” or “Meaning, Inc.” from Profile Books.

    The Economist Intelligence Unit is committed to protecting your privacy. Your personal details and company name will not be shared with any third party, including the survey sponsor.

    Thank you for taking part.

    Best regards,

    Executive Services
    The Economist Intelligence Unit

  34. Ramla A. (unregistered) on December 14th, 2006 @ 4:11 pm

    @ Dee:

    How would that work? You mean books in electronic format?

    @ Visitors to the fair:

    Any advice on art-related books and where to look for them?

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