Sapna Book House, which has found a place in the Limca Book of Records and the India Book of Records, as the largest book showroom in the country, started in 1967 as a small outlet not more that 80 sq. ft. with 100 titles. Today, it has showrooms spread over 2 lakh sq. ft and has about 1,70,000 titles in English and Kannada.
Nitin Shah, managing director of the enterprise speaks to Vyas Sivanand about his book ‘mall’ and his plans to expand it to other places.
_ Tell us about the journey of your book house.
The first Sapna Book shop was established in the year 1967.
Those days my father used to work for a book distributing company.
He was later transferred to Chennai and then to Bangalore.
When in the city, my mother prompted my father to open his own shop, something that she had dreamt.
Thus Sapna came to being.
The small retail outlet was hardly 80 sq.
ft and apart from few titles, the shop used to sell lottery tickets also.
In 1981, I joined my father and in 1985, my other two brothers came on board.
Slowly, we started expanding by setting bigger book shops and even began to supply to college libraries, corporates and HAL airport authorities.
In 1986, we took up a big showroom in Gupta market which is in Gandhinagar.
It was then the largest book showroom in the city.
Since 1994, we also got into publishing Kannada books after an inspiration from Kota Shivaram Karanth.
We now have 4000 titles in Kannada.
We publish two titles a day and 700 to 750 titles in a year.
We also have 500 English titles; all academic books based on syllabus, right from 12th standard, degree, B.
Ed, diploma, engineering, etc.
We have also translated biographies from Kannada to English.
By 1997, we had three showrooms - Gandhinagar, Jayanagar and Sadashivnagar.
In 2006, when the entire Gupta market was getting demolished, we moved to the present showroom, which is considered to be the largest book mall in India.
In 2007, we set up book showrooms in Mysore and Indiranagar.
In 2010, we opened one in Koramangala, one in Mangalore in 2011 and one on Residency Road in 2012.
In total, today, we have eight stores with a total retail space of 2,00,000 sq.
_ Why is it that you call the book house as a mall? We call it a mall because it is more or less a family store.
We have books right from Kindergarten to PG on any subject.
Other than books, we also have movie DVDs, Multimedia, stationary, gifts, greeting cards, toys, etc.
We also have a separate section for babies and expecting mothers where we have books and other baby products.
_ How many titles do you presently have? When we started, we had about 100 titles, but now we have 1,50,000 titles in English and about 20,000 titles in Kannada.
_ Do you feel that from 1967, when you started, to now, there has been a decline in reading habits? Some people are of the view that reading habit has seen a decline.
But I disagree.
The population has increased and overall reading habit, according to me has also increased.
It is the best habit one can advice.
_ Is the demand more for academic books or for novels? Academic books are a necessity.
Novels are some thing that you tend to buy for the love or passion of it.
After a certain age, I feel, books will be your only solace.
People are demanding translation of books from English to Kannada and they are selling very well.
_ How is your online store doing? Online store is also doing well.
There are almost a dozen such sites selling books online.
But the concept is not so strong as in the US.
We started the online store about seven years back just to keep ourselves abreast with the market.
My son is now driving the online part and in the last three months he has tripled the business.
But it will not affect the store.
_How strong is your distribution network? We have about 800- plus staff network which supplies to about 3000- plus institutions in the state.
Outside of the state, we have distribution in Chennai, Pondicherry, Goa, Kerala and a part of Andhra Pradesh.
We have a set of people who are solely focussed on distribution.
_ What are your expansion plans? We have plans to move to tier-2 cities and are thinking of Hubli.
If we move out of Karnataka, the first city will be Chennai.
We are still thinking whether to go for the franchise model for other states.