Neha Patil

A. H. Wheeler

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Headquarters  Allahabad, India
Founded  1877
Website  www.ahwheeler.com
Type  Bookselling
A. H. Wheeler httpsuploadwikimediaorgwikipediaenthumbb
Key people  Ă‰mile Moreau and T. K. Banerjee (Co-founders)

A. H. Wheeler & Co. Pvt. Ltd., commonly known as A. H. Wheeler or simply Wheeler, is an entirely Indian owned company. It owns a bookstore chain that was co-founded by Emile Moreau, a French author, T. K. Banerjee, an Indian businessman and others in Allahabad in 1877, operating from railway stations. This chain grew to have stores at railway stations all over India, especially in the north. According to Jhilmil Motihar the first store was opened at Allahabad station in 1877. In 1888 the company began publishing a series of booklets known as the Indian Railway Library.

Contents

The Banerjees took over the company in 1950. In 2004 it had a bookstores in 258 railway stations all over India. It contributed to about 80% of the revenue earned by the Indian Railways made from book sales. It had a monopoly on selling books on railway stations which it lost. it is headquartered in Allahabad and The distribution network is managed from there.

Loss of monopoly

In 2004 an Indian Railways circular informs that Wheeler had operated book stalls on all zonal railways except Southern Railways and a part of South Central Railway. It states: "At present M/s. A.H. Wheeler & Co. is enjoying sole selling rights for running bookstalls at platforms on which this company had been running the same till 01.01.1976. It has now been decided that M/s. A.H. Wheeler & Co. shall not have any sole selling rights henceforth and their rights are brought at par with others. The number of bookstalls held by M/s. A.H. Wheeler & Co. and M/s. Higginbothams Ltd. are at present frozen. Since, the sole selling rights of M/s.A.H. Wheeler & Co. have been withdrawn and their rights have been brought at par with others, the freezing on the holding of stalls by M/s. A.H. Wheeler & Co. and M/s. Higginbothams Ltd. is also removed. In view of the need for decongesting the platform, any fresh allotment of any new bookstall to any category at the stations where railways had frozen the holding of M/s. A.H. Wheeler & Co. and M/s. Higginbothams Ltd. should have to be amply justified before any such decision is taken. The allotment at such stations should be done only with the personal approval of General Manager, irrespective of the type of station." The following restrictions have been introduced by the railway on the nature of books sold on its platforms: "Sale of all types of obscene, scurrilous, smutty, pornographic, offensive or objectionable publications including pirated books is prohibited at all bookstalls. Zonal railways should exercise strict supervision and in case any licensee is found indulging in sale of such literature serious view should be taken including termination of licence" According to The Financial Express this loss of monopoly was a result of a "New Book policy" being implemented by the Indian Railways. It also carries Wheeler's claims that it was the first Indian company to be granted "total rights of any business" by the British, which it gained in 1937.

Name

A. H. Wheeler borrowed its name from the then-successful London bookstore, Arthur Henry Wheelers.

Rudyard Kipling

'Plain Tales from the Hills' and six other stories of Anglo-Indian written by Rudyard Kipling were issued as the "Indian Railway Library Series" by Wheeler. These were the first publications of Kipling's collection of stories. These books were sold on railway stations. They cost One rupee, then fifteenth part of a pound. Richard Jaffa considers them "amongst the early paperbacks".

References

A. H. Wheeler Wikipedia


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