Liffy Thomas

To attract new members and to retain existing members

CHENNAI: Have the increasing traffic jam, limited parking space and restricted library timings made your visits to the lending library less frequent? If so, libraries and bookstores are ready to deliver the book of your choice at your doorstep, some at no extra cost. All you need to do is choose the book of your choice from the online catalogue and dial the number.

From bookstores to private lending libraries, this seems to be the value-add to not only attract new members but also retain the patronage of the existing members.

It is two months since Hippocampus Experience Centre extended its in-house library to help children get their favourite books at the doorstep once a month. Of the 45 children in the 2-10 age group enrolled with the Hippocampus Home Library, 20 are members who have returned to renew their book reading habits after the initiative was introduced.

From adding their “dream list of books they wish to read” in the online database, the Centre allows one to choose a package between three and 20 books that would be delivered at a nominal charge.

Velachery Lending Library delivers books free of cost to the homes of senior citizens or those who are very keen on reading. Similarly, Easwari Lending Library delivers books but the members need to pay the fuel charges for every trip made.

Though Crossword and Higginbothams have been running the ‘Dial-a-Book' facility for some time in the city, they have not gone all out to promote it, say bookstore representatives. Shortage of manpower is one main reason that comes in the way of the bookstores from adding more customers.

“This is an added attraction for a bookstore but constraints such as distance and how fast the caller wants the book delivered are issues that need to be looked at,” says M. Hemalatha, Senior Customer Relations Manager, Higginbothams. On an average the store delivers around 15 books a day. She says how a few customers prefer credit card or a cheque as the mode of payment, not always making this service a viable one. “Also, it is general titles which can be chosen from Dial-a-Book.”

“When the book gets circulated we recover the cost. Besides, one has to pay the initial registration fee. More than seeing new enrolment, the home library aims at retaining old members who find different excuses for not coming,” says Chandni Khanna, Centre Head of Hippocampus.