Working parents seek out people to cover books

R. Niveditha got her new textbooks and notebooks some days ago. They need to be covered with brown sheets before her school reopens on Wednesday. Her grandfather is out of town and her parents, working couples, are busy, but she is not unduly worried.

“By Wednesday evening, I need the books. My school reopens on June 2 but it's fine, I don't need to take them on the first day,” the Class VIII student of St. Michael's Matriculation Higher Secondary School explains to the staff of a shop engaged in binding and covering the books.

“I generally take help from my grandfather, or if it's just one or two books to be covered in the middle of the year, my parents do,” says Niveditha.

With schools set to reopen in the coming weeks, people who help cover books are sought after by many working parents. Quite a number of book-binding shops gear up for more business this time of the year.

The narrow lane opposite Patrician College of Arts and Science, Gandhi Nagar, is getting busier as the reopening dates of schools near. Around five employees spread out on the street from 5 p.m. onwards to wrap the bundles of books with the brown covers. The shop gets students from around six schools in and around Adyar. “Last year, we received 487 customers. We pick up and deliver books from the student's house and take three days to deliver the books,” says A. Ashok Kumar, an employee of Sampoorna Binding Works. The shop has already received 300 customers this season.

The eight branches of Easwari Lending Library in the city undertake book binding, lamination and covering, and the stores on an average day receive 500 books. Light-weight binding was the new addition the library introduced some years ago.

Similarly, at Royapettah, on Avvai Shanmugam Salai, a couple of stationery shops have put up boards announcing that they undertake book covering and lamination. However, A. Bhasha, who runs one of the shops, says the business has not been as good as last year.

A majority of these shops charge between Rs.5 and Rs.8 for brown paper covering and between Rs.12 and Rs.30 for binding and providing a plastic sheet cover.

“Getting labour to do the work is the biggest challenge. During offseason, we get tattered books which are more time-consuming and we charge more,” says P. Sathish Kumar, proprietor, Easwari Lending Library.

He says that with a number of CBSE schools starting their next academic year before closing for vacations, the rush is spread out. “Otherwise, our staff members work overtime to complete the orders,” he adds.

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