The reopening of bookstores seems to have delighted readers as young as a three year old.
The sale of books under the children’s section is reported to have risen, even as many bookstores have switched over to online sales, seeing a dip in the number of customers visiting their stores.
“The footfall has dropped. However, the new normal is young readers, as young as three to four years old. Parents want to indulge them more in reading to distract them from gadgets. Earlier not many people would purchase books for their children,” says Trushant Tamgaonkar, executive director, Title Waves, an 8,000 sq. ft. bookstore in Bandra West. Title Waves saw the need to go online and started providing home delivery from May onwards through a delivery firm that charges Rs 40 per courier.
Spellbound, a speciality kids bookstore in Juhu that caters to children from 0 to 7 years of age, too, has seen a drop in visitors, as many prefer to have books delivered to their car when they come by, instead of coming in as they used to before. Owner Hemangini Babla says she sees a greater interest among her regular customers to shop online from their website.
Kitab Khana, a popular book store in Fort, has not opened the physical store for visitors yet. It had closed as a precautionary measure a week before the lockdown. While it does not allow in-store browsing, it provides kerb-side delivery as well as home delivery of books. It takes orders on Instagram and WhatsApp, and delivers the next day after payments are made through bank transfer or payments methods such as Gpay. “We are seeing children’s books sales mostly,” says T Jagat, chief operating officer of the store. Kitab Khana may open in July, he says. “It is a 100 per cent hit on the business. The experience of browsing through books physically is totally different from online shopping. People tend to come across books that interest them when they browse and purchase those too. The response to online sales is not great. But we don’t want to take the risk of starting browsing at this point,” he says.
A bookstore inside a shopping centre in Powai, Paras Bookwallah sells pre-owned books and is also home delivering to its customers after they place an order through WhatsApp. They have not got a good response despite publicising on social media about home deliveries, says Kinjal Karelia, its proprietor.
Granth Book Store in Juhu, on the other hand, does not provide online delivery. Store manager Herin Keniya says they are taking safety precautions, such as using masks, gloves, and thermal scanners. Footfalls have reduced though.
Smaller book stores though are struggling without business. Manish Dara of Gyaan Book Store near Thane station that sells pre-owned books says that business is dull as most of his customers used to take the local trains. With local trains not functioning for the general public, all he has sold is academic books to those who live nearby and come in with urgent need.
Similar is the situation with Kamal Book Store in Andheri, also selling pre-owned books. Only a handful of customers walked in throughout the day. “If the shop had been on rent, we would have had to leave to our native,” says Jigar Patel, whose father founded the shop around 35 years ago.
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