A. Mohammed Musthafa's book donation project aims to donate books to libraries in Corporation schools. He talks to Elizabeth Paulose about his initiative
Book Park is a small, rectangular book shop on Avanashi road where a large banner announces, “Reading is a gift. So gift your friends a book.”
The owner of this bookshop is A. Mohammed Musthafa. His journey with books began when he was 12 years old. After school everyday, he would work at a second-hand bookstall in Easwaran Koil street. “This is where I started to spend my time with books and inculcated the habit of reading,” he says. Mohammed's school did not have a library.
Once he completed his board exams, he started working full time at a second hand book shop in Ukkadam Book market. In 2002, he started a book stall with a friend. It was merely a stall on the pavement with 1000 second-hand books in Easwaran Koil street. Unfortunately in 2005, due to rains he had to think of an alternative location. He set up shop once more outside Hotel Arunachalam in Peelamedu. That stayed open for around two years. Now, 29-year-old Mohammed runs his Book Park. This has been open for over a year now. It is mainly second-hand books that find a place in his store, and you find everything from Chetan Bhagat's new bestseller ‘Revolution 2020' to Roald Dahl's short story collections there. He also runs a lending library by the same name at Varadharaja Mill bus stop that has over 50,000 books.
On April 23 this year, Mohammed organised a mobile book awareness campaign in honour of World Book Day. A van went around the city for three days distributing pamphlets about the importance of reading.
But what makes Mohammed's store really unique is a large glass box placed at its entrance. It has books inside it. These are donations from customers and even passersby. There are more than a thousand books in it. “Whenever I saw drop boxes placed near cash counters for N.G.O's such as CRY and others I wondered why the same could not be implemented for books. After all, books symbolise knowledge,” says the young man who then started the book donation project.
Drop a book
Mohammed placed this box outside his shop on February 15 this year. He accepts books that are suitable for children studying in classes one to 12. He does not take books on religion. Says B. Prem Kumar, a lecturer at P.S.G College of Pharmacy who came along with his kids and donated over 10 books, “This is a great initiative. I find that kids these days do not read much with so many distractions. I hope, this way people read more.” Mohammed hopes to donate the books he has collected to Corporation School libraries. He has visited a few of those libraries and has spoken to the authorities. “I find that though there are books in these libraries, kids still do not read,” he points out.
Spread the good word
“You can donate anything from story books, general knowledge books to comics”, he says. People can even donate newspapers. The money received from selling the newspapers will be used to purchase books. Also, donors can avail a discount of 25 per cent on the books in the shop. Once books are donated, Mohammed gives a receipt to the donor with a list of all the books. While one copy of the receipt will remain with him, one is given to the school.
For children's day
He plans to donate these books between November 14 and November 20 which is celebrated as the National Book Week. Book Park is located near Caramel Bakes, Opposite Central Bank of India, Peelamedu, Avanashi Road. For more details, call 9894033101/ 9894033102.