Chennai

Used books vendors in Chennai move online

File photo of a shop at Lily Pond Complex

File photo of a shop at Lily Pond Complex  

A few traders from Moore Market have found new customers during the lockdown

If you are a regular to the Lily Pond Complex and its precincts — better known as Moore Market — to shop for second-hand books, here is some news that should warm the cockles of your heart.

A section of these second-hand book sellers has migrated to online platforms, and their virtual bookstores allow customers to browse through the collection in their physical store. When the customer makes a choice, these traders would deliver the books at their doorstep.

It is a big step forward for traders from this second-hand book hub as a majority of them are accustomed to conducting business the traditional way.

Baskaran V., a second generation second-hand bookseller, is one of them. Every year, this time of the year, his 300 sq.ft. shop at the Lily Pond Complex would be thronged by students, who make a visit either to sell their academic books or buy new books.

“From schools to arts and science, engineering and medical colleges, students from a range of educational institutions ensure that during June and July we are deluged with business. Although it has been just a few days since I opened my shop, the response has been poor and I don’t think I can expect the footfall to translate into sale of a scale that would keep my head above waters,” says Baskaran, who has been running Baskar Book House for five decades.

He is banking on online sales. Before the lockdown got under way, Baskaran had signed up with usedbooksfactory.com, an online market place for second-hand books.

“I could not open my shop during the lockdown but I sold at least 120 books a month, some orders were from Odisha and North India,” says Baskaran, adding that he was pushed into effecting the necessary technological adaptations after he had uncleared stock for six months.

Thilak Desingh, founder, Usedbooksfactory, says there are 100 booksellers operating from Lily Pond Complex and they have onboarded four of them who operate close to 20 stores.

“We went to the more organised shops, those that had a system to key in data. Initially, they were not convinced but after 10 month they came to us,” says Desingh.

All that the traders had to do was feed in the ISBN number in the back cover, upload an image, specify the edition and price for all viewers of Usedbooksfactory to browse and place orders from.

Desingh says the model is a win-win for all. The student makes a small amount selling and recycling his book, the trader in turn sells and Usedbookfactory also gets a commission.

“In Hyderabad, we have onboarded a few shops from Koti Market, a hub for second-hand books, selling medical books, so that even someone from Chennai who is browsing through the collection, can buy books,” says Desingh.

Other traders

A good number of other second-hand book shops in Chennai has already migrated to online platform and are testing the waters.

VSR Used Books at KK Nagar, for instance, started maintaining an online catalogue over a year ago. “I pick up books in and around KK Nagar,” says R. Siva, who runs the shop. He says resource constraint is a concern and with the lockdown, the store has taken a break. But, he plans to resume buying and selling of used books once life in the city returns to normality.

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Printable version | Jul 14, 2020 7:18:10 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/chennai/used-books-vendors-in-chennai-move-online/article31825986.ece

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