How Startups are Getting Books to Readers

Let books be your dining table, And you shall be full of delights Let them be your mattress And you shall sleep restful nights. ~Author Unknown

G Seetharaman writes about how library membership may be declining but startups are using innovative ideas to get readers hooked to books.

Librarywala.com, which was among the first online libraries in India and was founded in Mumbai in 2007 by Hiten Turakhia and Hiten Dedhia, has found that an online library offers a viable, if not highly profitable and immediately scalable, business model. Members can choose from the various plans available on the website and have books delivered to their homes.

One of the ways he studied the market before setting up Librarywala was by standing outside a Crossword bookstore at Bandra, Mumbai, and asking visitors a few questions on what they liked and did not like about a library.

“What they didn’t like was paying penalties for returning the books late. They said sometimes they did finish their books on schedule but could not manage to visit the library in time to return the books,” notes Turakhia. That made Turakhia set a limit on the number of books a member could borrow rather than on the time they can keep them for, and decided to set up an efficient book delivery and collection team.

British Council took its Mumbai library online, called My Library, with home delivery of books in 2010.

In addition to individuals, some libraries used to offer institutional memberships to companies, which is the market four IIMAhmedabad alumni decided to target in 2007. Their start-up Kwench has since grown to have a clientele of 378 companies in eight cities, up from 260 a year ago.


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