The USP of Passaro Books is that it makes imported titles that have been pre-owned affordable locally
The colourful walls of V. Karthikeyan and Veena’s office are lined with children’s books — around 30,000 of them. A long and futile search for good books for their daughter and some research later, the couple realised that the books were either expensive or unavailable. So they began to import pre-owned children’s books from the U.K. and the U.S., and as the demand for these became apparent, Passaro Imported Children’s Books came into being last year.
Passaro’s USP, as Karthikeyan points out, is the price at which they sell their books. Since they are imported and pre-owned, they are sold at approximately 20 to 30 per cent of the actual price. “We make sure we provide books that are in mint condition,” says Karthikeyan, “and also try to get all the famous authors, interactive books, and so on. The kind of language and creativity that go into these books is great. The problem with buying new ones is that they are usually well above the budget of middle-class families. We want to make these books affordable for everyone.”
The books come in a variety of genres and are broadly categorised according to age — 0-4 years, 4-8 years and 8-12 years. They do have a few classics and some books for teenagers too. “We segregate the books manually and so we know exactly what we have — stories, interactive learning books, classics, and so on. There are some others who also import such books, but this sector is rather unorganised currently. We thought we would organise it, focus on one genre and make it a business,” says Veena. While the focus is only on children’s books currently, the couple hopes to expand to include some other books too.
Passaro promotes its books online and through stalls at schools and apartment blocks. “We did this exercise initially to see what people think of buying pre-owned books. Surprisingly, the feedback has been good so far. Many NRIs have been rather appreciative of our efforts,” explains Karthikeyan while Veena adds, “The reusability of these books also makes our business model sustainable and eco-friendly.”
The interactive and touch-and-feel books are fast sellers. And there are board and music books and dictionaries. They also have collections by Enid Blyton, Charles Dickens and some popular young-adult authors. And these books are usually priced between Rs. 20 and Rs. 400. “A lot of our clients are young parents, since we cater to children of that age. They seem to love the glossy finish and the illustrations in the book,” says Karthikeyan.