The Sarasavi Warehouse is located a few hundred metres (Towards the Nugegoda Supermarket) from the main Sarasavi Bookshop. Strangely, the latter exhibits no sign whatsoever of the former’s existence. Even the Warehouse seems unsure of itself ; when I asked the staff for the address it took a few minutes.
The Warehouse has been open for about 18 months . I have dropped in during many weekends, and the number of customers rarely exceeds five at any given time. It seems there are twenty or so regular customers who drop by on a weekly basis. So unlike a visit to the Sarasavi Bookshop nearby, here at the Warehouse you need not fear (Literally) stepping on any toes or being jostled about . You can actually spend a couple of hours here with the entire fiction section to yourself, a rare treat.
On the downside, there is not a single seat to be found in this shop. Now this particular gripe isn’t just rooted in my lethargy, I’m sure you too would like to sit down and read a few pages before deciding on a purchase.
The books here comprise of unsold stock from the main Sarasavi bookshop (In excellent condition ) and actual second hand books (Mostly in good condition, with little or no markings inside). The Warehouse spans four floors :
Ground floor- Mostly children’s books. There are some classics ; Plato’s Republic, Sophocles, The Secret Garden, Shakespeare’s works etc
First floor- Academic textbooks- medical, management, legal, physics , accounting, GRE practice books etc
Second Floor – Fiction, Biographies, Gardening, Health, Fitness, Cooking etc
Third floor – Sinhala books
I spend most of my time on the second floor so that will be the focus of my writing.
Fiction is separated from cookbooks/fitness books but beyond that it is rather chaotic and disorganized . I spent three hours painstakingly ( One might even say obsessive compulsively) reading all the spines on the bookshelves. This is a shop that demands careful browsing, but patience will be rewarded. Most of the books are second hand so rarely do they have several copies of the same book. But that’s sort of the thrill of it, seeing what unexpected delights you might find.
I have no idea what Stephen King did to so earn the ire of the Sarasavi folks but there is an extensive pile of his books on the ground. Clearly the likes of Carrie, Delbert Grady and Revered Lowe are unworthy of bookshelf status.
Also on the second floor there is an untouched small pile of books on sex layered with a generous undisturbed coating of dust, with such enticing titles as ‘The Sexual Revolution 2.0’
( Um where is this revolution taking place and why have we been left out ? ).
There is also a whole bookshelf creaking under the weight of hundreds of romance novels complete with the generic embracing couples on the covers.
To give you a general idea of what’s available :
Fitness – Yoga, pilates, tai chi etc
Cookbooks- Soups, eating healthy, pasta, rice, chinese etc
Biographies – There is an impressive collection of biographies of washed up British celebrities: Katie Price, Posh and Becks and Ronnie Corbett to name a few. However there are some diamonds in the rough : David Remnick’s Pulitzer Prize winning biography of Muhammad ali, Dave Eggers’ ‘A heartbreaking work of staggering genius’, Maya Angelou’s ‘I know why the caged bird sings’ etc
Fiction – Zadie Smith and John Le Carre make several appearances
Chick Lit – Bridget Jones’ Diary, Sophie Kinsella etc
To the store’s credit, each time I visit, the place is visibly tidier, there are no more piles of books on the floor or cardboard boxes lying around .The staff members are approachable and can tell you where the newer books are located; but beyond that you’re on your own in terms of finding the book you want. There appears to be no computerized database as such to search for the availability of a particular book but if such a system seems too far fetched then some kind of alphabetizing system would be fantastic.