A legendary figure on Colombo's secondhand book scene, Deen the Bookman has a vast selection of titles, from run-of-the-mills & boons to obscure medical titles. He runs a bookshop and a book lending centre, with a whole variety of new and old tomes looking for a home.
Deen’s been around for over three decades, and used to be one of the stops on the Maradana used book circuit, as any die-hard second hand book aficionado would know. His Slave Island place is mostly stationery and text books and the like, but his stalls are great. His shop has a renting service of sorts, where you can take a used paperback, read it and get most of your money back or take another one.
Deen is a regular at every book fair Colombo has to offer, like the big annual one at BMICH. He’s also started a stall at Good Market that’s quite popular.
His entire stock is divided between this, the physical store, and the vast amounts at his home in Wellampitiya. I met Deen at the Good Market and he added that if people want a specific book they should give him a call and he’ll let them know.
You’ll find stacks of old Archies and pulp fiction, and even more heaps of romance paperbacks that have been through the grubby fingers of many a schoolgirl. But there are a couple of hidden gems here and there, if you have the heart to dig a bit and spend a bit of time. Finding a book with a heartfelt inscription holds an unbeatable thrill for me, and is worth every shoal of silverfish.
So swing by his shop or stalls if you see them, and have a chat with Deen. At best he’ll recommend something perfect for you, at the very least you get to sniff delicious old books.