Source : The Hindu – LITERARYREVIEW – Azera Parveen Rahman
Websites sell pre-owned children’s books at a fraction of the original price
Anisha M. Shah is an avid reader and wanted her two-year-old son to develop the same love for books. As the pile of books kept increasing, so did the cost of buying them: there came a stage when Anisha started to feel the pinch. But determined not to let money come in the way, she soon stumbled on pre-owned books that could be sourced online at far lower prices. Once she had hit upon this solution, she wanted to help other parents too.
In December 2017, Anisha decided to step into the business of sourcing second-hand books (or ‘pre-loved’ books, as she calls them) and selling them online. Love for Books, her Facebook page, was an immediate hit. “Most of the books I was looking at are imported from the U.K. As I explored, I realised that most of these books are either not available in India, or, if available, are very expensive. But I could get pre-owned books at one-third or one-fourth the original price,” Anisha says.
Lipee Modgil, a dentist-turned-entrepreneur, has a similar story to tell. She used to buy books online for her son Ayaan. In January 2017, she decided to explore the online wholesale market for children’s books. “There I was introduced to pre-loved books for children from the U.S. and the U.K. I was mesmerised by the collection — the books were of very good quality and were priced much lower than the originals,” Lipee says. When she discussed this with other mothers, she received an overwhelming response.
“I started Bookworld with a Facebook page: in January 2017, the group had two members. Today, it has 5,500,” says Lipee. Members say that a ready supply of interesting books catering to different age groups — story books, activity books, audio books, touch-and-feel ones — has not just encouraged their kids to read but also offered a healthier alternative to TV or the iPad.
Architect-turned-entrepreneur Sanyukta Bharadwaj regularly visits social media pages for pre-loved books for her five-year-old son and year-old daughter, and has a book shelf overflowing with titles. “I am not much of a reader myself but I know how important reading is for children,” she says, adding that she gets good books at throwaway prices from these websites. “Can you imagine buying 10 books for approximately ₹1,000?”
“I thought people might have reservations about buying pre-owned books, but surprisingly, mothers have no such inhibition,” says Anisha.
Is there a flip side to this? Well, you don’t always have the luxury of choosing titles. But Anisha, Lipee and the others still try their best to customise, sorting books age-wise and giving suggestions. Rakhi Garg, who launched Pupilio: An Online Bookshelf in June 2017, says she also creates budget-wise lists and has recently added Indian publishers to her collection.
These online booksellers usually have just one copy of every book, so it’s first-come, first-serve for buyers. Lipee posts 15-20 titles every day on her Facebook and Whatsapp feeds, and whoever calls out first gets it. As one mother says: “I don’t know who gets more excited when a Julia Donaldson book knocks at our door — my daughter or I!”
The author is a Gujarat-based freelance journalist.