Pune: Nothing can deter a book lover from reading books. In the same way nothing can deter the book stall owners to reach their customers in these times of lockdown. Various book stall owners have gone the other way only to ensure that their customers get the books of their choice vis-à-vis keeping the flame of their business burning.
What are the steps taken by the stall owners?
Every morning for the past one week, Anand Solanki who owns Solanki Book Stall in Camp leaves his home at around 9 am with a bunch of books. He delivers those books according to the orders he had received from the surrounding areas till afternoon.
Solanki’s is amongst the several traditional bookstores and stalls in the city that have been facing the brunt of lockdown. In a bid for survival in these testing times, he has started doorstep book deliveries to customers in and around Camp. A few more bookstores and publications in the city have started deliveries, also offering attractive discounts on pre-orders for keeping their businesses alive through the lockdown.
“I have been into the business of books since 1989, and love for the books refrain me from doing anything else. It’s been over two months of the lockdown, and people are continuously looking for something to read. I was getting several enquiries, and so started delivering books,” Solanki said.
After he posted appeals on WhatsApp and Facebook, his post got viral. “I have been delivering books to seven-eight customers everyday,” Solanki added.
Pagdandi Bookstore Cafe in Baner has also been delivering books for the past three week.
“We have been receiving a phenomenal response. We don’t know when people will start coming back to the Cafe to hangout and buy books. But we realised that we could certainly take the books to them,” said Vishal Pipraiya of Pagdandi.
Pipraiya is helping his wife Neha Tiwari who owns and runs the bookstore cafe. Unlike Solanki, Pagdandi has been delivering books all across Pune city and outskirt areas. “Starting Monday, when courier services resume, we will also be sending shipments outside Pune, as we have been getting several enquiries,” Pipraiya said.
Along with spending their time reading books, Pipraiya said that people are also using them to connect with others. “You cannot meet any of your friends and family due to lockdown. So, people have started gifting books to their loved ones, and we have delivered them several times now,” he added.
Survival of the fittest
In times when the traditional bookstores were already facing tough competition from e-commerce portals, Pipraiya expressed a hope in the bookstores taking over the doorstep delivery.
“The element of curation that a physical bookstore offers cannot be created online. It can only be experienced on walking into a bookstore. However, we have to admit that the number of people visiting bookstores for that experience is dwindling. With economy already on the backfoot, we will need a combination of a physical selling space as well as home delivery in order to survive,” Pipraiya explained.
Apart from the independent bookstores and stalls, bookstore chains and publications too are offering attractive discounts to readers to pre-order the books during lockdown.
“We have offered people a 33 per cent discount on placing pre-orders of our books during the initial phases of the lockdown, and will begin delivering them when the courier and postal services start. We also conducted video podcasts wherein we brought authors to interact with people virtually, and it received a tremendous response,” Rohan Chmpanerkar of Rohan Publication said.
Bookstore chain Crossword is also offering discounts on pre-orders of books which people can get after the lockdown is over.