Reading habits seem to be on a decline among techies. But, many book clubs thrive in Technopark
Their jam-packed lifestyles often do not afford them enough time to sit back with a good book. But there seem to be many book lovers in Technopark, just taking into consideration the sheer number of couriers from online book stores that arrive on campus on a daily basis and also the popularity of book fairs that are held regularly (at least once a month) in the atriums of various buildings. “I regularly meet many people from Technopark at certain private libraries in the city that I frequent,” says Rakesh V., who works in IT support at a multi-national company.
However, many of these book lovers say that their reading habits have come down since they jumped on the IT bandwagon. “I love reading but I rarely get the time to read these days,” says techie Arun Satchithanandan, with a perceptible sigh. “Ever since my school days in Kozhikode, I’ve enjoyed reading classic English literature, especially Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Homes’ series. However, my reading is now limited to online articles and at the most short stories in English,” he adds. Techie Praveen George, also a literature buff, who is currently wading through Zen And The Art Of Motorcycle Maintenance, says: “It’s only on the weekends that I can find the time to read. Paucity of time, I think, is the reason why the reading habit is decreasing among techies.” That and the proclivity for social networking, adds Rakesh, who is a big fan of Malayalam and Indian literature and comics too.
Surprisingly though, until very recently when an online lending library, ‘Readers Delight’, exclusively for Technopark employees was started, there was no proper lending library on campus or anywhere nearby. Techies still depend on libraries in the city. Of course, there is the Technopark Resource Centre run by at Park Centre but that, they say, is more of a reference library where techies and entrepreneurs can access the latest IT and business journals. There also seems to be no pan-Technopark book club on the likes of Natana, its cultural forum.
Then again, we hear that within several companies in Technopark there are informal, employee-managed book clubs, or, at the very least, mini-libraries/a couple of bookshelves that have something besides reference books and project-specific journals. For example, Gemini Software Solutions, which has some 85 employees, has a book club, ‘Grantha’, started on Vajayadashami Day last year. “Grantha was started to encourage reading habits and it has quickly become very popular. We started off by donating books ourselves and gradually built up the pool to around 200 books now. Employees can borrow the books at a nominal rate. With that money, over the past six months, we have brought new books, for which the reading charges are slightly higher. With this money we hope to add many more fiction, non-fiction and reference books in the coming months,” says techie Brijesh P.I.
Allianz too has a fairly active online book club ‘BaG’ (Books Are Good), started by four techies. “We have a fairly extensive library. The collection was built up on donated books,” says an employee. Apparently, the company also buys certain books based on employee recommendations. Also, many of their clients who come from different places often gift books that they have brought along to read. Toonz Animation’s small in-house library, apparently, has many tomes on Indian literature, fables and mythology, comics, volumes on temple architecture besides a large collection of film festival books from across the world.
Meanwhile, Arun says that in the MNC based at Bhavani building where he works too there are small book clubs/libraries. “For example, the 150 of us who work on the same project on the same floor maintain a small library that includes a number of fiction and non-fiction books – usually updated at the beginning of the year based on our recommendations for good reads. On a weekly basis those who are in charge of the library send out a circular detailing the time when the bookshelves will be open and we can sign out books what we want,” says Arun. At Infosys too a group of like-minded employees have recently started a small book club.
And all of them, despite being stakeholders in the e-world and working in paperless offices, seem to prefer regular books to e-books. “I enjoy the feel of a book in my hands,” says Praveen as Arun adds: “I regularly read from free online book catalogues such as Project Guttenberg. But if I can get a printed version of a book then there’s nothing like it.”