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Booked for life

Lakshmi of Akshara bookshop has been actively promoting book related activities in the twin cities. In this column she shares the high points of her life's journey with readers. Beginning a new feature on people who have made a difference to society, through their exceptional work in their fields.

Lakshmi at Akshara — Photos: Mohd Yousuf

DESTINY LED me to this interesting profession of running a bookstore. I started my career as a management trainee in a state government corporation. After completing 17 years in service, I found that I was not happy with what I was doing. I did not have job satisfaction and decided to take voluntary retirement.

This led to the birth of Akshara, a book shop at Banjara Hills with the encouragement and advice of my husband and in partnership with my friend Ashok who is already running bookstores in Vijaywada and Visakhapatnam. I chose the name Akshara as it means limitless and also the alphabet both of which are closely associated with books. My reading habit during my college days helped me get acquainted with books in a short time.

My aim at Akshara has been to not only sell books but also to run the store in an innovative manner. To create interest in the readers, authors meets are conducted from time to time wherein authors are invited to meet our customers and interact. The first book reading we organised was of Manjula Padmanaban's Harvest for our first anniversary in `98.

Akshara's association with The Little Theatre, a group of eminent personalities who read extracts from books, happened quite by coincidence when I had gone to invite Shankar Melkote of The Little Theatre for the reading.

Since then we have had many authors at Akshara including Khushwant Singh, R. K. Laxman, Shashi Deshpande and Upamanyu Chatterjee. While I feel all of them were special, the Shashi Deshpande reading accompanied by music was unique. The programme achieved its goal in creating interest in the readers. Future plans include readings by David Davidar and Tejdeep Menon.

I believe the reading habit should be inculcated in children from a young age as it helps the child achieve an all-round personality and also inculcates creative thinking and imagination and helps form the foundation for their development.

I would like to do something in the world of children's fiction, as I feel not enough is being done in the field. We tried to invite Ruskin Bond for a book reading but age did not permit him making the trip. I do not believe the Harry Potter craze is a sign of children rediscovering the joys of reading, as it is limited to a certain section.

I enjoy reading fiction and as far as hobbies go - Akshara is my workplace as well as my hobby. Though running a bookstore has its limitations monetarily, the satisfaction I get from running Akshara more than compensates for it. I love everything about Hyderabad except for the traffic, which is really bad!

Akshara has established itself by word of mouth, advertisement through its customers for which we are indebted to them. We, at Akshara feel that the personal attention bestowed on our customers has gone a long way.

Akshara will be celebrating its fifth anniversary in April and I am happy to say that we are satisfied with the work we are doing and the satisfaction gained by it is immense. I send out my heartfelt thanks to all my valuable readers and customers who have made this possible.

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