‘Hornbill Books’ - the name seems to be that of a publishing company, but voracious readers in the city have already started identifying it as the collective effort of a four-member family which loves to attract their fellow beings to the fine virtues of reading. Forty-five-year-old P K Babu and his wife Mini Justin, 38, started this initiative just two months ago.
“My schoolmate Siraj helped me by lending Rs 3 lakh to start some business here for making a better living. Both I and my wife were keen to do something connected with books since both of us are good admirers of books and writers. This led to the beginning of Hornbill Books,” said Babu.
“We buy books from almost all the publishers and display them at public meetings and gatherings. We travel and conduct book exhibitions across all districts. Every Saturday, we are permitted to set up a stall in front of a busy shopping mall at MG Road in Thiruvananthapuram,” he said.
Mini finds it interesting to make a living as a propagator of reading as she had earlier worked at a bookshop in the city. “We are not running this venture aiming for profits, but still, when we sell for Rs 10,000, we will get a profit of around Rs 3,000. Earlier, I was working in a book shop at Statue and hence I don’t find this an unfamiliar territory,” she said.
But the rent for their small office near Kunnukuzhy, salary for the two staff members and the reductions demanded by some customers make it really tough to make both ends meet.
Babu and Mini also take their children Keerthi Justin and Kathu Haridas to all the campaigns and exhibitions. Keerthi is a ninth standard student and Kathu is only three months old.
Team Hornbill denies that the reading habit has come down among the public. “Those who read will continue it forever. Most of the people who visit our stalls spend Rs 500 on an average to pick their favourite author or edition, which we consider an optimistic sign,” said Babu and Mini in one voice.