This website sources and ships second-hand books across India

This year-old online platform is the answer for students and book lovers across cities

Published - May 10, 2018 01:11 pm IST

All through his student life, Thilak Desingh found it a pain to source second-hand books. “Throughout Class XII, I would go around looking for second-hand stores in the city, and thinking how good it would be if there was a portal for it. Then during College, I used OLX, but had to do quite a bit of searching,” says the 25-year-old SRM College alumnus.

The idea stayed in his mind, says Desingh, and exactly a year ago he got down to doing something about it. His website,, now offers everything from guide books and second-hand textbooks to novels of different genres, delivered across the country.

The website name wasn’t decided upon arbitrarily. “There are three platforms through which we function,” says the software engineer, “When someone types ‘Chennai used books’ on Google Maps, the search throws us up. There’s also a data input form on the website, and people can also send in orders through our Facebook page.”

A year in, Chennai Used Books handles about 200 orders a month, shipping books to towns and cities within South India, and also to a few other places around the country.

“We have books of all genres, but only in English for now. Most of our orders are in Chennai and Bengaluru, and we also ship a large number of books to Delhi. The farthest we have gone is a single order in Jammu and Kashmir,” he says.

Desingh had visualised this project as a boon for students and avid readers in search of cheap buys, but a bulk of the response came from another direction. “We have more sellers than we have buyers,” he says, “People are looking for a way to get rid of the stuff.” The idea, he says, is to not let a book be sold just for its weight in paper, but keep its larger value in account.

“The first aim behind this was to reuse the books, and not let people resort to just discarding them. The second aim was...well, my dream is to be an entrepreneur,” he laughs.

True to his dream, the budding entrepreneur has built in a procedure that is followed every time, from acquiring old books to delivering them to a new owner’s doorstep.

The process is fairly simple, and there are quality checks in place. “If you want to send in your books, you’ll have to stack them up and send us their photographs on Whatsapp,” he says, “This is the first step, where we determine that books aren’t torn or battered. Then, after we bring the books in, we check them more closely before deciding to put them for sale. We also ensure that none of our books are more than five years old, especially since textbooks and academic books are constantly updated.”

The delivery itself is also quite hassle-free, says Desingh, adding, “We have tied up with DTDC for deliveries.” The only issue is that the farther the buyer is from Chennai, the higher the price they have to pay, since delivery costs have to be kept into account.

All the checking, rechecking and stocking up is done by Desingh and his parents, at the Chennai Used Books godown in Manakappam. “I’m thinking of hiring a few people now,” adds Desingh, musing about rising operations. “The response has been strong from the very beginning; I didn’t expect it to do so well,” he adds, “I didn’t even advertise, just focused on the search algorithms and answered a couple of questions on Quora.”

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