The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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A whole new floor for kids and books
- Opportunity of choice, availability of space

Today’s children are definitely interested in books, and they are discerning readers, choosing wisely and well from the plethora of new titles constantly pouring into the market. So, to tempt Calcutta kids with the “opportunity of choice and the availability of space”, Emami Landmark is expanding its children’s section.

Hemu Ramaiah, owner of the Landmark stores in Calcutta and Chennai, had all this and more to say on her two-day trip to the city, on mission expansion. “Children’s books is a very strong market for us, particularly in Calcutta. But they have to be clued in to what is available. Unfortunately, there aren’t very many forums that do so. We have a wide range of products, but not enough space to display them.”

Hence, the increase in area by about 3,500 to 4,000 sq ft. The children’s section will move up to the top floor in the Lord Sinha Road store, with more shelf space and a carpeted seating area, where they can relax and read, browsing through old favourites and new titles, and making their choice.

Rest assured, the adults are not being left out in the growing plans. The kids section moving means a bigger area for books and stationery, which Ramaiah hopes to bring on a par with Chennai stores, since “Calcutta doesn’t really have a shop dedicated solely to stationery”. Also on the cards is a 20-seater coffee shop, as opposed to the current coffee corner. Although she admits that Calcutta doesn’t measure up to the book sales in Chennai, the figures are “not bad”.

“But what I really want to do is create a book club, like the one I run in Chennai,” the 45-year-old mother of one explains. “There are about 14 members, from the ages of about eight to 15. They review children’s books, one from the five-to-eight age group and the other from the above-eight category. The reviews are published in a local newspaper. So, it’s a by-kids-and-for-kids weekly column. That is how the youngsters keep up with what’s new and what’s worth reading, and a way for us to test consumer preferences.”

As for grown-up trends, all things Indian is in — authors and subject matter, particularly translated works in regional languages. “The best thing is, nowadays, people don’t just come to check out what is there. They do their research beforehand, on the Net, and then ask for specific titles. So, contrary to popular belief, the Internet has not prompted a shift away from books, but has given readers a look at a wider variety.” she adds.

People have not forgotten the joy of books, nor have they forsaken the traditional mode of reading the printed word. Evidence — the number of books that are given as gifts through Landmark’s website. “It’s phenomenal. In fact, we do home delivery all over India already, and are working on extending the service to the US.” Her last word on the subject is that the myth that the art of reading is dying out is just that — a myth.

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