The Hindu

Sunday, Sep 06, 2009

"So, what are the high spots in the bookstore now?" I asked Bibi. And realised at once how foolish the question was in a room full of high spots: fine bindings and rare books. "Let me show you," she said, getting up. I followed her to a glass-fronted bookcase which she unlocked with a key that looked as antiquarian as the surroundings, and carefully brought out an exquisitely bound book. Fitzgerald's Omar Khayyam, she said softly, "And look, jewelled binding. By Paul Riviere, London, 1879. Adorned with 86 semi precious stones. A completely one of a kind binding".

I was inside Imperial Fine Books, owned and run by Bibi Mohamed, one of very few high-end book dealers of Indian origin in the world of fine books. And certainly the only Indian woman in the rare book business in New York, possibly the country. Imperial Fine Books, located on upscale Madison Avenue in midtown Manhattan, is the leading specialist in leather-bound sets and fine bindings.