Going strong in the times of Kindle

A long chapter: A view of the Senthil Lending Library in R. A. Puram. Photo: M. Srinath.   | Photo Credit: M_SRINATH

In the early 1980s and 1990s, book lending libraries were commonplace. Holidays and weekends were meant for reading.

Lending libraries have dwindled now. The reading habit is dying — especially the habit of reading physical books. Against this backdrop, Senthil Lending Library in R.A. Puram, with a customer base running up to 7,500, appears to be a miracle.

Started in 1982 by Pazhani, a book enthusiast and voracious reader, and ably assisted by his son Satish, the library operates from a modest Corporation shopping complex. Its appearance is deceptive. For, it has branches across the city and has over 50,000 titles, ranging from thrillers to comics and children's books.

“The e-book and the kindle have brought down the readership by around ten per cent only,” says Shankar who has been managing the library. The racks at the library are replenished every month with new arrivals that top the list. Besides English books and journals, the library also has a good collection of works in Tamil.

Given the popularity and longevity of this library, it’s hard to believe that it first started as a waste paper mart in another part of the city. A scattering of books on a few racks was what they started with. When one of the regulars was impressed with the titles found on the rack, the owners sensed a business opportunity. They began to stock more books and also study their customers' interests — something they do even today.

Some customers go only by authors while others like to read on varied subjects.

In the earlier days, the majority of books were by foreign authors. Now, there are as many Indian authors as foreign authors. About the membership, Satish says, “Every month we get around 100 new readers, which is more than proof that there is no dearth of book lovers. We charge Rs. 500 as caution deposit which will be refunded on cancellation of membership.”

“At least 150 customers walk in on a daily basis to our library. On an average, there are 500 to 700 books that are borrowed with a reading time of two weeks for novels and a week or ten days for comics and magazines. There are many members who come in regularly and have been customers right from the inception of this shop,” says Satish.

The demand increases during vacations, especially during December, when customers from outstation are here for an extended stay.

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Printable version | Sep 26, 2021 4:24:57 AM |

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