IIT coaching, CAT coaching, GRE coaching, Math coaching, Sanskrit coaching, Chemistry coaching, formal coaching, neighbourhood-aunty-coaching, 15000-a-month coaching, 150-a-month coaching... Ameerpet is home to half the students of Hyderabad, half of the time. It is no surprise, therefore, that it is also home to several of the most popular textbook-specialist stores of the city. Universal Book "Shoppe"
is one of the most prominent among them.
With its Sure brand of books, Universal sure has established a formidable reputation as a one-stop-shop for both first and second hand textbooks. A recent fullhyd.com survey indicates that about 98.73% of people in the age group 16-24 in Andhra Pradesh invest blood, sweat, toil and tears into trying to crack medicine and engineering entrance exams. About 1.27% don't make it, but by the time you finish reading this sentence, a new engineering college would have opened, so it falls to 1.26%.
About half of the 1.26% attempt suicide. Half of those who attempt it fail, and half of those start dotcoms. Thankfully for us, there aren't any books on starting dotcoms at Universal (the only book they have on entrepreneurship can put an insomniac to sleep). Instead, Universal only sells "Computer, Medicine, Engineering, Management, MCA, MBA, Inter, Degree and EAMCET" books. Whew!
Universal has moved from its old home adjacent to Minerva in Ameerpet to a smaller location opposite the S R Nagar bus stop, on the main road going towards Erragadda. The main Universal store is of course in Koti, where the giants such as Central Publishers
reside. This main store is the grand temple to textbooks alone, but the Ameerpet location seems to have succumbed to the temptation of stocking unattractive trinkets (read "novelty and gift items").
Yes, instead of sticking to its core competency, i. e. textbooks, Universal is wasting precious retail space on baubles (the thick layers of dust on these suggest that no one buys them anyway.) The same space could be more effectively used to display the books in aisles and allowing readers to browse. This would lend a more modern look and feel to the very traditional "are-you-being-served?" model of the store.
However, the customers don't really seem to care about such peripherals. They know this is one store where you can get what you need, and that is reason enough for them to patronize it. And the store is open all days of the week, which is a blessing for those who remember to buy the relevant textbook the night before a do-or-die Monday morning exam. And that includes you