Bookstores are not off the shelf

Updated: Dec 28, 2016, 10:37 IST | Dipanjan Sinha

As 2016 draws to a close, bookstore and library owners in Mumbai are positive that the brick-and-mortar bookstore is alive and will thrive in the digital age

Speculation that the physical book and the bookstore are on their way out is an old one now. It started before Kindle arrived in the market and has lived on. Interestingly, the counter argument has survived too. And some people in the books business said that the ebook market is not as good as they thought it would be. So then, can we expect those destinations where the bibliophiles find home in pacy metropolis are here to live? People behind some of Mumbai’s most important book spaces are buoyant about what lies ahead in 2017.

Knowledgeable staff
To survive the digital age, bookstores need to be unique spaces that can provide an experience that you may not get reading online. Things like a knowledgeable staff who can advise you on books is always useful. One needs to be careful about innovation and change in a bookstore because with drastic change sometimes a bookstore ceases to be what it is.
Vidya Virkar, Strand Book Stall


Sooni Taraporewala at an event in Kitabkhana

Personalised attention
Even in the period when ebooks were allegedly eating into the physical book space, we were growing at a rate of 20 per cent every year. Our idea to beat the Internet has always been to emphasise on personalised attention and have a staff that reads and is updated about books. We also ensure that we have all the latest books. When we don’t have a book, we see to it that we get a copy if some customer is looking for it. It is good service and a nice atmosphere that make people keep returning to a store.
TS Jagath, Kitab Khana

Indie books can have a market
As someone who runs a library of graphic novels, I can say that the primary factor that draws readers to a store is a great collection. It can also work well if
a store specialises in one niche subject. So while we do find many popular books online, the indie books can have a great market in physical stores.
Utta Shore, Leaping Windows

Well-stocked and good service
The era of the onslaught of the ebook is now over. In fact, physical books encroaching the digital space is what we are experiencing now. In this situation, the only way forward is to keep the places well stocked and the service good.
Spokesperson, Crossword bookstores

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