Tara Books Store, Chennai – Best Designed Bookstore


I have been looking at the simply brilliant books by Tara books and its art galleries. I thought they were very innovative in using the native Indian art forms for story-telling, especially for children. In the meantime, I wrote a business case study on them for CII’s India Innovates series. That is when I came to know of their bookstore in Chennai. And it got added to my to-be-visited list for the next Chennai visit.

Tribal Art Wall Mural at Tara Books, Chennai
Tribal Art Wall Mural at the book store

So this Oct, when I was in Chennai for a business meeting and had just a couple of hours to myself, I walked into the book store at Thiruvaniyur in Chennai.

Tara Books Store, Chennai

Sit out at the book building, Tara Books, Chennai
Sit out at the book building

Thankfully they have marked themselves very clearly on Google maps. And have put a couple of boards in the lanes leading to them; otherwise, it would be a nightmare to locate them. As I entered the house converted into an office cum bookstore cum public space for readings and meetings, the first thing that locked my eyes was the colorful walls and pillars with stories painted on them. Color-laden books were piled up against the white stands in a way that colors stood out even more brightly.

Wall Mural at the building
Wall Mural at the building

Store design

Once I introduced myself, the staff took me around the space. The ground floor is a bookstore, first floor more of a meeting space with the artworks from the books splayed on the walls. The top floor is the editorial office where the designers and the editors work from. The narrow spiral staircase that connects the three floors is not devoid of art either. Below the spiral is a neatly painted snake. And in the footsteps, I could see the letters E, M, etc marked with an arrow sign. I was told these lead you to various parts of the building like editing, meeting, etc. Very interesting!

Wall Murals at the building
Wall Murals at the building

Wall Murals

Standing at this books store was like being in a culture lab. Walls, books, and designs – everything shows you the glimpses of diversity that Indian artisans can create with the same few basic colors. Madhubani, Pithora, Patua, Pattachitra & Bhil arts appear to be talking to each other. Letting you draw parallels and differences in them and make you absorb them in a unique way. It is a place that celebrates visual storytelling. Not just by making stories come alive on its pages, but also by providing better livelihood options to Indian folk artists. They are sending stories from India across the world. Their books get translated into many global languages across the world.

A designer book on display
A designer book on display

Flipped through the books, and picked up a couple of books with an urge to buy more…

If you love books and if you have young children, the Tara Books store is a highly recommended place on your next visit to Chennai. Visiting the store would be a learning experience in itself.



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