Laxman Kumar, 28, a chef, knows just where to find good books to soup up his cooking without blowing a big hole in his pocket.

For Dh7 a week, he borrows a title to try new recipes. He trades it for another a week later.

Kumar is a regular at Book World, a small book shop in Satwa with a massive collection of second-hand books, periodicals and magazines which has become a favourite hangout of Dubai's literati.

"I rent a couple of books a month to improve my cooking," said Kumar, who earned his chef's hat at the Hyderabad School for Culinary Arts.

Book World has two shops in Dubai – one in Satwa and another in Karama.

The shops' shelves are stocked with about 100,000 new and second-hand books, with about 5,700 active members between them, said Book World owner Bisham B.K. Sainani.

The only things customers would miss at the shop are the cups of coffee and a cozy couch.

"Since our overhead is low, our products are priced lower, with a buy-back option at half the price," said Sainani, an engineer whose wife Leena runs the two shops.

Classified by author or genre, books are crammed either side of the shop's fan-cooled aisles.

Magazines and pull-out music scores sit alongside a set of golf clubs and other knick-knacks that are also for up for the bargain-hunter's taking.

Ninth-grader Anne Varghese, borrows Enid Blyton's fiction titles for Dh1 to Dh3 per book for nine days.

A complete collection of Harry Potter titles and condensed 30-year-old editions of Readers' Digest are stacked alongside Ian McEwan's The Lemon Table, Anita Desai's Fasting Feasting, Terry Pratchett's Interesting Times and Oxygen by Andrew Miller.

Richard San Pedro, 37, has been a Book World habitué for three years. San Pedro, who teaches music, always feasts on piano pieces and guitar tablatures as well as back issues of National Geographic magazine. Second-hand paperbacks start at around Dh15.


  • Book World's Satwa branch is located opposite Lal's Supermarket (next to a Kodak shop), near the Iranian Hospital- Tel: 04-349 1914
  • The Karama branch is just behind the Pizza Inn near Bombay Chowpatty- Tel: 04-396 9697
  • The shops double as a library; a Dh75 refundable deposit plus Dh60 annual fee allows members to borrow books for seven days
  • Customers can also trade in their books for another title