The name of the post says it all…
A month or two back i read this banner ‘Rent Read Return’ hanging in front of a about to be furnished store.
Curiosity was at it’s peak. Was it really what i wanted it to be? Simple, I wanted it to be a library from where i can rent, read and return books. And so it was.
As a child I grew up in an area fortunate to have one of those ‘Bharat Shevashram Sangha’ Libraries. The library was huge by any standards and definitely so by the standards of a small town like Puri,Orissa. It was near to Sea Beach and at a walkable distance from my home. The library had a vast collection of books and very functional in terms of having the most relevant competitive magazines for young people, employment news for hoards of job seekers among the young people, comic and story books for kids, and news papers apart from almirah loads of books which I never ventured into but guess must be related to branches like literatures, classics, novels etc etc…
I was never the voracious reader kind, but I bit did enjoy my bit of time reading a occasional short story book, few comics etc… Even from my school library I use to be more fond of the lok-katha’s (local short stories) from various regions of India (generally in Hindi language). No wonder, I was stronger in Hindi-langauge compared to science subjects back those days in school.
Back to the story of ‘Just Books‘ – that’s the name of the chain of stores trying to bring the reading habit back to us. I am truly thankful to them. Why ??
One – I believe not all of us can buy all the books in world that we might like to read (say at least, just once). It’ll work out to be way too expensive and occupy way too much space in our home without adding proportionate value. Here, you have a chance to just pay something in the range > Rs. 150 p.m and read from a wide collection of books covering almost the entire spectrum of topics that i spoke of earlier with reference to Bharat Shevashram library and probably even more. As a matter of fact i became a member under their ‘Basic + magazine’ scheme which entitles me to keep any 2 books and one magazine for any length of time at a monthly fee of just Rs. 175/-. Of course there is also a one time refundable deposit of Rs. 1000/- and one time non-refundable registration fee of Rs. 250/- which has to be paid. Oh! yes, i can even return and exchange of books and magazines any number times in a month.
Two – How often do we buy books based on reviews or hearsay only to realize later that it doesn’t measure upto our expectations ? My answer – quite often.
How often do we want to buy a book (supposedly a collectors item!) but are constrained by it’s cost and hence the attached risk. Thoughts like – what if the book doesn’t turn out be as good as others claim it to be sometimes do creep in ? My answer – Less frequent but surely does happen. For example all those colorful gardening books that i want to buy are all priced so high (in the range of Rs. 500/- plus). The thought often comes – What if I buy them based on a quick glance of say 10-20 minutes at the store, only to realize later that it’s a huge let down. For instance a huge number of those gardening books from foreign authors with all those inviting colorful pics – are they really relevant under Indian conditions ?
What i am trying to say is, there are surely books which are worth buying and keeping for future reference but it definitely helps if you get to read them once at your leisure before making the buying decision. Here too JustBooks helps.
Just as a case in point from the above shown books (in pics) the Home Doctor and 200 veg growing basics seem to be collectors item and i’ll probably buy them the next time i see them in a book store. While the rest are just good enough to read once and move on with the learnings.
Those two, for me are compelling reasons for a service like Just Books.
Few additional good things about JustBooks is that, they not stocking every book in every store and the books are often spread across their stores. It just takes a nice kiosk terminal based search and request from a user to get the book transferred from it’s store to your membership(home) store in 2-3 days. All the books are RFID tagged and every user is given a plastic card containing membership details. For taking the books one just has to swipe in his membership card and keep the books at the kiosk shelf which then scan’s it’s RFID tag and takes the subscription/issue request. Fantastic application of technology coming from ex-technocrat turned entrepreneur, I must say!
Whoever said the books are an endangered species soon to be extinct. I say please keep the kindles and i-pad’s aside at least till I grow old and die or may be my kids too, may be their kids too – getting little greedy there :)….
Ciao till the next post, it’s a lovely Saturday afternoon here and the garden is waiting for me…