When India implemented one of Asia’s largest lockdown in March, small bookstores had to shut their doors. And that made people switch to Kindle and Amazon to get books. Even though having your book delivered at your doorstep is comfortable, it cannot replace the experience of visiting a bookstore. You cannot walk along the aisle, taking in the smell of new books, or give recommendations to a random booklover while flipping through the pages of the book, you may or may not buy.
Will small bookstores survive this pandemic?
In this Amazon dominant industry, small bookstores were already struggling to make a profit. Bookstores cannot offer attractive discounts like these online platforms. So, people preferred online shopping. And now this pandemic has pushed a lot of small bookstores to near obsolescence. But experts suggest that there is still hope.
Independent Bookstores Association of India (IBAI) was created with a simple goal to empower, promote, and provide a platform for independent bookstores to speak up.
“We hope IBAI will give even the most obscure bookstore an opportunity to find its voice and be heard. At the moment, we do not have the numbers to be taken seriously. Collectively we will have more bargaining power,” Leonard Fernandes said in his interview to The Hindu. He is one of the proprietors of the association, along with Raman Shresta and Diviya Kapur and four other bookstore owners.
IBAI is also planning to open an online bookstore fed by Independent Bookstores registered with them. The idea is to every order they get, the bookstore closest to the place delivers it. But the final decision has not been made yet.
You can visit their website to register your bookstore.
Roli Books, a Delhi-based publisher, recently announced the delivery of books to its Delhiites customers. And it is the perfect way to support your favorite local bookstore without leaving your house.
Roli Books don’t just deliver the books. They give 10% of the proceeds they got from the sale to the bookstore of your choice. “Every time someone purchases a book from us for home delivery, we ask them the name of the bookstore that they would normally buy from. When they tell us the name, we credit ten percent of the proceeds made from the sale to the bookstore,” Kapil Kapoor of Roli Books said during one of his interviews.
Unlike other businesses, Bookstores survived all these years because of passion, and it will live through this pandemic too. Yes, a lot of things might change, but people will continue to support small bookstores.