Books on Toast is about giving away old books, adopting second-hand ones and sharing the proceeds with the underprivileged.

“In several ways, Books on Toast shows people that it takes little time and effort to make a difference individually,” says Vaishnavi Prasad, coordinator of the Chennai edition of this book sale with a difference.

The inspiration for Books on Toast comes from a local library in the United States that raised funds (for itself) by holding book donation drives. Here, the charities vary from city to city, depending on who is contacted. Apart from collecting money for a good cause, dusty books that usually lie in corners of bookshelves are put back in circulation.

Set for the city

On learning about the Books on Toast sale in Bangalore, Vaishnavi contacted Anuya Jakatdar, a 27-year-old freelance writer and social media consultant who had organised it. Anuya helped by specifying some guidelines and briefing her about the whole process. All Vaishnavi had to do was have her friends vouch for her for the Chennai leg of the event and wait for six months before it took place.

While Pune, Mumbai and Bangalore saw youngsters donate 90 per cent of the books, in Chennai it was the opposite — senior citizens donated most of the 2,000 books that were collected. Vaishnavi and her team of volunteers took charge of cataloguing and categorising the books, putting up posters around Besant Nagar, spreading the word through social media and even set up speakers that blasted some music. Not surprisingly, a large crowd turned up during the event.

The books were sold at approximately one-fourth or one-fifth of the original prices; a bargain that allows people to buy more and thereby encourages the reading habit. As in any book sale, children’s books had many takers as they are not used for more than a year and are expensive.

What ‘Books on Toast’ also translates into is a network — of volunteers, people willing to donate and people who are willing to spread the word. All the proceeds collected through the sale go to Teach for India (TFI). The unsold books will be given to orphanages, libraries and/or old age homes to make sure nothing goes to waste. Some of the books will be put up for sale online on the Books on Toast Facebook page till December 22.

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