Book Shop

Another similar book shop in Hauz Khas is AllArts a well maintained and planned book shop with all books properly bound, laminated, and organised in respective shelves. Maps and posters too are framed in a decent way. Thus, it made an overall good impression, as there’s no torn or tattered piece of paper around.

Complementing Deepak Jain, owner, AllArts, I asked him to share his views and he added, “My father started this shop in the year 1963 and he is still in book business. We started our business from Darya Ganj. And the going has been good.”

There’s a huge collection of old movie posters and even hand painted posters, besides a whole world of books. So what’s the most prized possession of all? “All these we have collected over the years, so my shop is very special to me. But the Vintage Advertisements collection is really a wonderful thing,” replied Deepak. “I enjoy my job very much and it is quite satisfying at the same time,” he concluded.

says Maya H Primlani of Oxford Book & Stationery Co, Darjeeling – the only bookshop in the beautiful city of Darjeeling. Popularly known for its world famous tea business, Darjeeling is a favourite tourist destination. Here people come to unwind…and books are the favoured companions for most.

Jaswant Singh at the bookshop.What better place to find harmony with nature than the ‘Queen of the hills’ or the Darjeeling! And who can forget the world-famous Darjeeling tea revered by connoisseurs across the globe. While most of us know that majority of people are engaged in the tea business here, not many would know that education has been the second most growing activity here. There are many boarding schools in Darjeeling, where thousands of students across the country stay here to get quality education. Thus, the demand for books is obviously high.

One of the oldest shops in Darjeeling dealing with books is Oxford Book & Stationery Co, which has been in operations for over 70 years. Though the name of the bookshop does contain the word ‘stationery’ but the shop focuses mainly on books. The bookshop is now ably run and managed by Maya H Primlani. “This bookshop was originally set up by my father-in-law late Jiwakram H Primlani and then was later managed by my husband late Hiroo J Primlani. After my husband’s death in 1994, I had to step in and run the bookshop, which I equally enjoy,” told Maya.

The bookshop offers books in various genres. While self-help books and management books are in good demand elsewhere, it is not the case in Darjeeling. “Tourists normally pick up children books, guide books, maps and fiction. Books on Buddhism are also in good demand,” she told. The bookshop also houses nursery books which are bought by private schools. “We stock books of 8-10 local Nepalese authors, which are liked very much by local people,” she told.

Telling about their relationship with publishers and distributors, Maya told, “We have been offering books from well known publishers like Gyan, Rupa & Co, etc. We also have good business relations with well-known distributors like India Book Distributors and Variety Book Depot, etc for the last many years.”

On asking about the pattern of shoppers coming to their shop throughout the year, Maya replied, “The only lean season for us are the months of February, July and August, when we keep one-and-a-half days off in a week - half days on Saturday and a holiday on Sunday. But, rest of the months, we have good number of buyers to our shop and so we are open all days of the week,” she added. Of these, Maya attributes 60 percent of their book sales coming from tourists while rest 40 percent from local residents.

So what has been the change in reading habits over the years of the local people in Darjeeling? “The reading habits amongst locals are growing for sure,” she replied. But, the trend of launching books at bookstores is yet to be seen in Darjeeling.

So popular is this bookshop that it finds mention in a pocket-size tourist book on Darjeeling brought out by Rupa & Co. Some of the prominent visitors to their bookshop have been Jaswant Singh in September 2009 and Princess of Thailand – Maha Chakri Srindhorn in March 2005.

In spite of being in business for last 17 years, Maya still feels herself a newcomer to the industry, which is indeed a humble assertion of her zeal to grow further. She is ably assisted by six staff members, of whom Indraman Dewan has recently completed 51 years of his service. “I enjoy this place and the book trade, where there’s a lot to learn and grow,” she concluded.

Book trade business is rapidly growing in Chennai and both the distributors as well as retail stores are benefitting from this trend. Here, D Ramalingam delves more in this business in conversation with a major distributor and a retailer in Chennai.

The year 1995 saw the establishment of two majors in the Chennai book publishing industry - Alpha Land Books (a distributor) and Connexions (a retail outlet) and since then, both the companies are growing parallely.

Alpha Land Books – a well-known distributor in Chennai

As per NV Raghavan, managing director, Alpha Land books Pvt Ltd, the book trade in Chennai has grown rapidly, especially in last 2-3 years. Raghavan plunged into distributorship, after his 27 years experience with leading book & magazine distributors (India Book House). He was ably assisted by his son N R Pradip, a director in the company.

Raghavan saw the growth in book publishing, especially in Tamil and English books. Pradip chipped in that the reading habit has increased, even with the children, contrary to the general view. He particularly noticed a spurt in book publishing in Chennai in last 2-3 years as publishers from north are also foraying into this region.

Alpha Land offers books from publishers like Babaji Nagaraj, Himalayan Institute, Gita Press, DK Printworld, Delhi and all Tamil books of Art of Living by Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, to mention a few. Talking about their USP, Pradip told that correct payment to the suppliers and prompt delivery to retailers have been their hallmark, which has helped them to distribute books to all the 32 showrooms of Landmark, Higginbothams, Odyssey, Connexions and to whole of south India, besides Maldives.

To augment teir income and to enable new authors to publish their books, Alpha has forayed into publishing. They publish books in the areas of folklore, mini biographies, classic stories, English improvement, boredom busters and language learning. The books contain 120-200 pages each and are priced between Rs 45 to 60.

Connexions – a well know lifestyle chain in Chennai

Raghavan and PradipSimilarly, TS Ramachandran, managing director, Connexions, established this lifestyle showroom, serving the value & price-conscious customers for books, toys, music, gifts, stationeries and other product lines. He was ably assisted by his cousins - Sunder Natarajan and Vilva Natarajan, who brought rich experience from the US market. The concept of Connexions was to be a lifestyle oriented showroom with a strong community-oriented flavour. Strategically located at Anna Nagar, a 3,500 sq ft showroom was established with 15 employees.

The showroom at Anna Nagar, now a 10,500 sq ft facility, is well-maintained. According to PS Seshadri, CEO of Connexions, a lot of efforts are put to keep the ambience spick and span every minute and that really costs a lot of money. Ramachandran was upbeat about the progress Connexions made from inception. A family owned company, Connexions is well- managed by the MD and V Swaminathanwith strategic inputs and directions given by the other two directors - Sunder Natarajan and Vilva Natarajan.

Today, Connexions has multiple showrooms in Saligramam (3,000 sq ft), Coimbatore (5,500 sq ft), Mahindra World City (4,500 sq ft), Velachery (10,000 sq ft), Ashok Nagar (2,000 sq ft), Mogappair (6,000 sq ft) and Salem, Tamil Nadu (6,000 sq ft). Connexions is poised to grow and expand as the profitability is on the rise. With 250 employees and a turnover of Rs 30 crore, and with very few retailers available to meet the needs of local market, Connexions is poised to take a front-runner position in this market, with room to expand as the business grows.

says Rajiv Jain of Delta Stationery in conversation with Varsha Verma.

Rajeev Jain (right) with his son Abhishek. Established in the year 1988 as a stationery shop, Delta Stationery has established itself as one of the busiest and most sought after bookshop for curriculum books for schools, colleges and universities. Started as a humble set-up for stationery needs by Rajiv Jain, the bookshop has come a really long way. “When we started the stationery shop in Atta area, the main market for Noida residents, there was no bookshop in the city. Seeing the demand for books, we started the bookshop in the same place in between 1992-93. By 1997, we started stocking school books for children and after seeing the demand for books at college level, we started selling books for BA and BCom courses. Gradually, we added books on engineering, medical, computers, management, etc,” told Rajiv. On asking about the number of titles they keep as of now, he proudly said that though it is difficult to confirm, but it would be around 70,000-80,000 titles.

Rajiv procures books through both distributors as well as publishers. He informed that only a few publishers have ‘return policy’, rest of the unsold books are their loss only adding, “We have a season throughout the year, barring two months – June and October when the demand is comparatively low. The average price of the books is Rs 100-350, though we have few books with a cover price of Rs 2,000 or more.”

On an average, we have 200-250 customers’ everyday, though the footfall is much higher than that and in the season time, there are as many as 400 customers a day,” he told. Rajiv is ably assisted by his father Sheel Vijay Jain and his son Abhishek Jain, who helps him whenever he gets time from his study. He has a fleet of 12 efficient salespersons, who know where each book is kept and how many books are left in the stock.

Seeing the expanse of the number of books he has, I asked him about any tie-ups with schools. Rajiv replied that they did tie up with 2-3 schools in the beginning but as they were made to pay a huge amount to the schools, they could not provide customary 10-30 percent discount to the students. “It was thus spoiling our image and we withdrew,” he added.

Since Rajiv has seen two generations of students coming to his shop, we asked him about the change in behavior of the students. “The behavior was polite earlier, but now they have too much of different attitude. Hence, the handling has become difficult. In fact, we need to go extra mile and be more polite to deal with them,” he replied. “The general age group coming to our stores is 18-25 years. For students’ up to 10th standard, parents normally pick up the books. The customers are not very price-sensitive for books till school level but for graduation and above, customers generally go for lower priced books.”

Rajiv himself is not very computer-savvy but he feels that e-learning will surely reduce the number of books sold but that may still take 5-6 years time.

“We are very strict about dedication and commitment and that’s what has sailed us through so many years. Customers are our priority and we procure books for them even if they are not in our stock,” he informed proudly.

On asking about their future plans, Rajiv replied that first thing they want to do is to computerize the inventories. “We are also planning to add general books to our portfolio. Besides, we are planning to shift to a bigger four-storey building in the posh Sector 18 market of Noida, where people can browse through the books and pick up what they like, just like the malls.” Shops in Indirapuram and Greater Noida are also on the cards. “We will go for branches only as we feel that the franchisee system may spoil the market,” concluded Rajiv.

Colour, complex, vibrant, emotional and dynamic. Ubiquitous but instinctual, one hardly knows how the mind perceives colour. Superficially, colour creation, selection or appreciation may seem like they have very little of the method in them, yet visual artists and designers today are freely exploring with high-tech colour combination techniques, 3D imaging or light enabled artificial colour creation, giving a whole new direction to the possibilities of colour in design.

The PechaKucha ‘RGB’ hosted by CMYK bookstore, Delhi in collaboration with CKS and German Book Office on September 29, 2010 was a successful interactive night with nine young domain speakers covering a wide range of colour experience stories- from ‘trend’ and ‘aesthetics’ to ‘language of colour’. The speakers for the night included Dinesh Khanna – photographer, Divya Dutta – design trends specialist, Lohash Sood - media artist, Neena Guleria - colour therapist, Nida Mahmood - fashion designer, Nien Siao - colour consultant, Sonali Rastogi - architect, Srishti Bajaj – product designer and Ridhi Parekh - user experience consultant. In 20 slides of 20 seconds each, the presentations took the audience through fashion to architecture, media to photography, graphics to product design, holding out new colour views across industry, design domain and specializations.

The night was indeed colourful, with almost 100 colour enthusiasts of different ages and interests gathered at the CMYK bookstore, Delhi. The event witnessed a variant cross perception on colour and how it differed in other non-Indian colour societies. The discussion about colour therapy used for human well being was widely appreciated by the audience. The presentation covered topics like ‘Colour Experience’, ‘New India Bioscope’, ‘The Colour of Green’ and ‘Light and How it Heals’- such a variance surely deserved some wine and cheese!

Interestingly, PechaKucha Night was devised in Tokyo in February 2003 as an event for young designers to meet, network, and show their work in public. It has turned into a massive celebration, with events happening in hundreds of cities around the world, inspiring creatives worldwide. Drawing its name from the Japanese term for the sound of ‘chit chat’, it rests on a presentation format that is based on a simple idea: 20 images x 20 seconds. It’s a format that makes presentations concise, and keeps things moving at a rapid pace.