The Independent Bookshops Association of India has decided to celebrate October 7 as Independent Bookshop Day from this year onwards. mid-day catches up with indie bookstore owners across the country and figures out the secrets behind running a successful indie bookshop.
What makes an indie bookshop memorable is the community of readers it creates, according to Neha Tiwari, co-founder of Pagdandi, a Pune-based library-cum-bookshop founded in 2013. "The beauty of an indie store is that they are spaces for exchanging ideas and discussing the magic that books have." Co-founder Vishal Pipraiya, adds, "It's both a challenge and a responsibility to do a good job of recommending books."
Pagdandi Bookstore Cafe, Pune
Ahalya Naidu, co-founder of Bandra bookstore Trilogy, says that books are just "waiting for the right reader to find them". According to her, indie bookstores do not deal with just customers, but readers. "Personally, our joy lies in looking for books, reading them, and getting to know our patrons so we can find the best books for them."
Trilogy Bookshop, Bandra
For Vishwanath Biradar, the second-generation owner of Book Lovers, curating a collection of books for an indie bookstore depends on the personality of the place where it is located. Biradar's father, Rudramuni, founded Book Lovers in Andheri in 1993, and since then, the store has been going strong. The secret? "You need to understand what kind of readers live in the area. Every location will reflect the reading habits of the people in the area."
Book Lovers, Andheri
"As an indie bookstore, we're consciously trying to encourage book-buying habits," says Leonard Fernandes, founder of the Dog Ears bookstore in Margao, Goa. Fernandes, who is also one of the founders of the Independent Bookshops Association of India (IBAI), says that running an indie bookshop requires one to stand out. "It can be challenging to compete with the discounts that online platforms offer. Having said that, bookshops like ours are focusing on how to improve reading habits and how to make indie books widely known." He adds that marketing what you have to offer is often overlooked, but is key to remaining in people's memory.
The Dog Ears Bookshop, Goa