Suresh C Shah, the founder of Sapna Book House, among the largest book chains in the country, died on Tuesday in Bengaluru after testing positive for the coronavirus, according to reports. The 84-year-old had been diagnosed with COVID-19 on April 24 and had been hospitalised since May 1 in Seshadripuram. He developed cardiac issues and passed away on Tuesday, his grandson and Sapna group president Nijesh Shah told The Hindu.
In 1967, Suresh opened the first Sapna Book House in a rented store in Bengaluru’s Gandhinagar after working at a pocket book distribution company. Originally from Mumbai, Suresh had worked as a porter at Dadar railway station in the city. He later found work at Pocket Book Distributing Company in Mumbai, beginning in sales and finally moving to manager, later heading a new branch in Chennai. Firmly planted in the book business, he decided to venture out on his own. He moved to Bengaluru at 27 in 1965 and two years later, opened his first shop at a tiny location in the city, according to reports.
Sapna Book House now has locations across Karnataka as well as in Tamil Nadu. The 40,000 square-foot showroom in Gandhinagar once held the distinction of being the largest bookshop in India, according to the Limca Book of Records.
Suresh was not only known for his dedication to the book business but also for championing Kannada authors and literature. Sapna locations feature a wide range of books by Kannada authors and its self-publishing unit focuses on Kannada works as well. The bookshop frequently marked Karnataka Rajyotsava Day, and one year released 55 books in Kannada as part of the 55th year celebrations in 2011.
“Sapna is today a brand name that is synonymous with books. It is the only place in India where you can find over one lakh titles on a variety of topics under one roof,” Suresh reportedly once said.
The chain is now run by Suresh’s descendants, including his grandson Nijesh Shah. It heavily focuses on selling educational textbooks for students.
Karnataka Chief Minister BS Yediyurappa and many of his cabinet colleagues including Primary and Secondary Education Minister S Suresh Kumar, Mines and Geology Minister Murugesh Nirani condoled Suresh’s death.
Rest in peace Suresh Shah, founder of Sapna Book House, who passed away due to Covid. Started life as a railway coolie & headed Bombay Coolie Association. Started Sapna in Majestic. Published Kannada writers. Remarkable life.— Uma Mahadevan Dasgupta (@readingkafka) May 26, 2021
Suresh C Shah was a railway porter in Mumbai before he opened the first Sapna Book House location in 1967 in Bengaluru. He spent his life championioning Kannada literature, while building one of the largest book chains in the country. https://t.co/D3RHgTjGHR— Nikhita Venugopal (@nkvenugopal) May 26, 2021
With PTI inputs