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Saving One Book At A Time

Copywriter by day and librarian by night, Pushpendra Pandya created India’s first crowd-sourced library. Started exclusively for Mumbai booklovers, the library has now moved into Hyderabad, Chennai, Ahmedabad, Delhi and Pune.

Published: 20th April 2014 06:00 AM  |   Last Updated: 18th April 2014 09:51 AM   |  A+A-

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As you enter Pushpendra Pandya’s Vasai home, the only visible portions of the walls are four metres above the ground. Stacked to the hilt across his room are over 2,000 books that are a part of his crowd-sourced virtual library. A digital media copywriter, Pandya has been reading books and swapping them with his friends for as far back as he can remember, which is how the idea of a crowd-sourced library germinated. And what started exclusively for Mumbai booklovers has now moved into Hyderabad, Chennai and Ahmedabad with Delhi and Pune joining in last March.

“There was always a desire to work on making books accessible and as cheap as newspapers. And in Mumbai, this luxury is a necessity given how lonely this place can be,” observes Pandya, after his many conversations with book lovers and regulars he met while working at the Rani Baug Zoo at Byculla. “I realised that affluence and flourishing businesses cannot buy the happiness that a simple book can give. That’s when I connected the dots and now am trying to save the real book reading experience, and bring a ray of hope in lonesome lives,” says the 32-year-old.

He first started out by lending books to friends and people he met at the Rani Baug Zoo. “They kept coming back for more books and even newspapers. I realised if I made books available to readers through various mediums including virtual, they could access literary delights without much hassle,” says Pandya. A Facebook page, a website and a couple of campaigns later, Pandya’s virtual library took off and today houses more than 2,000 titles.

Pandya collects these titles by approaching friends or those he bumps into during book sales, in local trains, at platforms or bus stations or whichever gathering he attends. His enviable collection is a matter of pride and helps many a fellow readers but all this has not come easy. “I invested most of my savings into giving this library a push. Plus paid members are a handful and non-paid members keep fluctuating. So far I have received less than `5,000 for the library, however, the saving grace is that people keep donating books due to lack of space in Mumbai homes,” says Pandya. The library, named India’s First Crowd Sourced Library, works on the system of membership and the method has so far been sustainable. “For one month, readers pay `250, for three months `500, for six months `900 and for 12 months `1,900 and can avail up to 52 books each year. This is in all our centres across the country and is as cheap as a newspaper readership,” says Pandya, who is a spy-fiction fan.

He tried to start a library in Gurgaon but could not sustain it. “Similarly, Bangalore library was also live but the person managing it located base to Pune. We are on the lookout for somebody in Delhi/NCR,” he says.

While his Sundays are usually spent picking up and collecting books from members and fellow readers, Pandya says it is all worth the cause. “Carrying massive bags and cartons of books in jam-packed Mumbai local is a war but thrilling in many ways. When I see the bigger picture of how these books will help others, it motivates me to continue,” says Pandya who is also working on two web portals for divorcees and senior citizens in Mumbai.

“They will be up and running by December and I hope apart from the books, these community portals also bring a smile on the faces of those who feel dejected in this city that never sleeps,” he says.

How It Works

Book Sourcing

Pandya collects books through donations, friends or people he meets during book sales, in local trains, at platforms or bus stations.

Membership

For one month, readers pay Rs 250, for three months Rs 500, for six months Rs 900 and for 12 months

Rs 1,900 and can avail up to 52 books each year



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