COVID-19 has done strange things to people, mostly sad, but for some, it has turned around their lives. Take for instance a set of collegians across India who set up online book stores not only to beat out their boredom but to prop up the golden habit of reading.
In a world of Kindle, Audio Books, Wattpad, and Pdfs; the feeling of reading a book in its physical form, smelling the pages, and using a cute bookmark, is becoming extinct. In the lockdown, the college-going thrift sellers tried to rekindle the old tradition of reading ‘physical’ books via online platforms and got a good response.
An avid reader, Nidhi Lodaya said, “I follow a lot of thrift book stores. Every now and then, I’m in search of some books and I find them at thrift stores. But, within minutes of posting a book for sale on Instagram, it becomes out of stock. This has happened to me ample times that I ask the seller for a particular book right after a minute of it being posted and it’s already gone.” Nidhi is a college-going student and has a tight budget. This is how Thrift stores have become trendsetters in the reading world.
Shamim Khan runs an Instagram store named The Old Postman which he established last year while he was completing his graduation. His Instagram page has 2,209 followers.
Since he was an avid reader, he started the store and it worked for him as a stress buster. Shamim went on to describe how he went from reading a lot of books to paving a way to sell them. “I had a lot of books and I started by selling my own books. I remember the first time I sold books, the buyer told me “You have to let go of the books, Shamim.” I sold 21 books worth Rs 1,600 and only bought more books from it. Through my tiny but growing store, I’ve sold more than 2,000 books in the past ten months and my personal self only grows,” he said.
Shamim is currently preparing for the entrance test to join Jamia Millia Islamia for a Master’s in English Literature. According to him, his studies will not be affected because of the store. “As I’d be doing my master’s in English, it’d be comparatively much easier than it would be for other students. And this is actually fun.” He said. Something out of the box that he does, which acts as a bonus, is writing witty captions along with the pictures of books that he sells. “I get to know things that I didn’t and it only adds up as a bonus to share it on the store via quiz, poetry, or short snippets.”
He looks forward to being in this community and if not selling books then at least help other sellers by finding the right book suppliers.” For Shamim, the whole journey of selling books is a warm and comforting feeling. “This is home,” he said. Another thrift store owner, Ayesha Shaikh, whose book store is named The Pepper Pages said, “I was clearing out my bookshelf and an idea struck me, “why not sell these books so that I can buy more?” I started my business in 2020 when we all shifted to online classes. My lectures were only till 1 PM and after that, I would spend time on managing my Instagram book store.”
Ayesha, who is pursuing a BA in Psychology from K.J. Somaiya said that her parents totally supported her and they are sure that she is capable of managing this small business along with her studies. “Currently, with no doubt, I am going to continue with this store but in the future, if I move overseas to pursue my Master’s degree, I’ll have to make a difficult decision.”
Ayesha also creates her own bookmarks with the help of her sisters and sells them on the same page.
Two Delhi-based engineering students, who wanted to stay anonymous, came up with the idea of starting a bookstore online. The name of their online store is Onlinebookstore41.
One of the two expressed how much he loved reading books but couldn’t afford to buy more and more books. That is how he decided to start this store with his friend so that more people like him could buy books at easy prices.
He further said, “One of the reasons for starting the store is that I wanted to be financially independent and not ask for money from my parents,” he added. They are looking for donors as well as buyers. If someone is interested in donating or buying books, DM them on Instagram. Maintaining a book store along with college is a tough job but these students started with it and in their late teens and early 20s, they own a business. And what could be a better business idea for book lovers than selling books?
Shamim Khan | FPJ photo
Ayesha Shaikh | FPJ photo
The Pepper Pages - Instagram | FPJ photo
The Old Postman | FPJ photo
Onlinebookstore41 - Instagram | FPJ photo
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