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For the love of reading

PRINCE FREDERICK
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Trend There’s nothing like holding a book in one’s hands but the way it reaches them has changed

ENDURING APPEAL Contrary to popular belief, reading books is not a habit that’s dying out PHOTO: H. VIBHU
ENDURING APPEAL Contrary to popular belief, reading books is not a habit that’s dying out PHOTO: H. VIBHU

The idea that Internet is fast replacing books does not hold water. Neatly packaged information served hot and fast on cyberspace does encourage intellectual sloth and eat into the inclination to sift through tomes, but it is far-fetched to conclude that bytes will slowly wipe out books. Partly because physical books are promoted, sold and purchased in great numbers, online. And this trend is on the upswing.

Over 1.5 million titles are believed to be listed on Tradus.com. Not just new books, online transactions involving old books are also on the up, as proved by informal market spaces on Facebook. The success rates of online lending libraries are also impressive. To cite an example, bookandborrow.com, an online book lending facility launched in 2009 by four friends, Raji Divakar, Anuradha Alagappan, Malvika Mehra and Minnie Amirapu, appears to have grown in stature with around 10,000 books reportedly available for circulation.

Technology, coupled with offline service in some cases, is behind the success of online promotion of physical books. Amarjit Batra, country head of Olx.in, which enables users to generate classified advertisements, has this to say: “With an array of features aimed at diverse modes of usage, including desktop and mobile, our website is flexible to the requirements of different users. With Olx applications available for smart phones, the usual processes leading up to placing an online advertisement is considerably reduced. In a seamless series of actions, a user can photograph his books with his smart phone/ tablet, write a description and post on the website.”

Online shopping is undergirded by efforts that take place offline. The most significant of these is the creation of network that would take the service to the users’ doorsteps. “A wide and extensive delivery network is a vital factor in online stores,” says Tej Kapoor, a vice-president at Tradus.com. “We have tied up with courier groups across India.” The Chennai-centric bookandborrow.com derives much of its appeal from the fact that it organizes free door-to-door delivery and pick-up of books.

Says Anuradha Alagappan, “It’s the strong delivery system, involving courier companies and our own team of delivery boys that has helped us grow to a position, where we have around 10,000 books and are looking at widening our reach to include regional language books. We will shortly offer books in Malayalam, in addition to those in English and Tamil we already lend.”

From these experiences, it is clear that there is still nothing like holding a book in one’s hands. Only the way it reaches them has changed.

PRINCE FREDERICK

Technology, coupled with offline service in some cases, is behind the success of online promotion of physical books

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