JAYANAGAR: A second-hand bookstore here is selling off its stock for by weight, and for as low as `120 and `150 a kilo. The offer is on till Sunday.
Book Bonanza, a haven for bibliophiles for its variety and throwaway prices, is shifting to a new location. Books here, with the exception of brand new ones, are usually sold at `200 a kilo.
As entrepreneur Tipu Waseem Pasha is still on the lookout for a new place in Jayanagar, and says reopening the store is likely to take another month, he has thrown open what he estimates to be four lakh books at a clearance sale of sorts.
“It comes up to 20 tonnes. This is easier for me because I don’t have to find four walls within which to keep my books, and it’s better for the customers because at these prices, they can stock up,” he says.
The owner of the building in Jayanagar 4th Block, which houses the store at present, is contemplating demolishing it. “The rent I pay him is a fourth of the rates prevailing here. I’m grateful to him for giving us this space, and he has indicated that he might have space for us in the new building too,” Pasha told City Express.
Before moving to its current location, Book Bonanza was opposite the BMTC bus stand, where Pasha’s uncle Iqbal Khan started it a couple of decades ago. After the 30-year-old took over in 2008, he found it congested and decided to move.
A book lover and collector himself, Pasha is aware that the books are worth far more than the prices he sells them at. His intention is to have them reach even college students who hail from rural areas. “There’s no point in making money out of books. We have a very low profit margin -- about `5 per book,” he said.
And to cap the price where it is, Pasha says, the books are sourced through a network of well-wishers from the UK and US.
“Libraries there often discard books, and these are either pulped and recycled or auctioned off. Our people ship them to us,” he explained.
He claims procuring the books from within the country would cost much more. And this is holding him back from introducing regional language books. “Everyone here charges far more than our prevailing prices, but I plan to add other languages once we move to a new store,” he says.
S Krishnamurthy, a resident of BTM Layout and Pasha’s senior most customer, says that while he manages to buy a few Kannada books from Ankita Book House and Sapna Book House, he gets to read English books mainly because Book Bonanza makes them affordable. “A second-hand store -- one where Kannada books are this affordable -- would be great,” he says.
In addition to retailing, the store caters to street-sellers and other second-hand stores as well as online sellers, all of whom sell it at a slightly higher price.
Techie Leela Padmaja picks up books from here regularly and sells them from her apartment on Old Airport Road and via some Facebook groups. “I mostly pick up children’s books,” she says.
“Kindergartens and schools also buy from us, and every now and then, we supply free of charge to orphanages as well,” Pasha says.
The book fair, as Pasha calls it, is a place you head to only if you have some time on hand: orderliness is not something the store can boast of. On the contrary, its overflowing racks, the piles of books around corners that you accidentally knock down and an autographed edition that you might unexpectedly stumble upon, all add to the charm.
“People love opening up new boxes when they arrive. If it’s after hours, they’re even willing to stay overnight,” he says, adding with a laugh that some readers also hide the titles they want so that they could pick them up the next time.
But this is to change in a month as some of his customers, interior designers, have offered to do up the store, and Pasha wants to open up the space for storytelling sessions and plays to increase visibility. He’s also observed that some cafes stock books to enrich the customers’ experience, and he wants to adapt a variation of this: serve complementary chai or juice. “I could also ask a few friends to serve short-eats,” he adds.