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Mobile book shop-cum-library parks in Eco Park

The initiative, called Book Traveller, was flagged off on Tuesday

Sudeshna Banerjee | Published 13.05.22, 09:26 AM
The open-shelf van with books at the parking lot of Eco Park gate 4 on Tuesday.

The open-shelf van with books at the parking lot of Eco Park gate 4 on Tuesday.

Picture by Sudeshna Banerjee

Eco Park now has a book shop cum library. And it is open to air and mobile.

In place of a brick and mortar structure, the library is housed in a 22-feet-long van that stands parked in the Gate 4 parking lot of Eco Park.


The initiative, called Book Traveller, was flagged off on Tuesday. “We will stay parked here six days a week from 3pm to 8pm, except Monday when Eco Park itself remains closed,” said Nitin Gupta, director of Logolepsy Publishing Group.

The company had started in 2016 as a book distributor. “In 2018, we ventured into publishing. We already have a catalogue of 300 titles.”

The books on wheels project is three months old. “Initially we used to attend exhibitions. But that meant finding an exhibition ground, putting up a stall, setting up electric connection for the evening hours… Having our own vehicle to exhibit books freed us of all these constraints. The idea is to make books accessible to readers. This way, those who cannot travel to bookstores get the opportunity in their own neighbourhood.”

The van is self-powered with an inbuilt inverter. It has racks fitted end to end on both sides for display of books, making it an open-shelf store. There are LED screens fitted in between the racks that display relevant information. One can step inside the van also to browse the books kept there.

“We have already held two exhibitions — one inside South City complex and another on the St Xavier’s campus in Park Street. We plan to stay at Eco Park longer — three months,” he said.

People can both buy and rent books. “To become a member of the library, one has to deposit an annual fee of Rs 500. The reading charge is 10 per cent of the cost of the book, which is deducted from the amount kept as a security deposit. A book has to be returned within a month of borrowing,” said Gupta.

The van’s schedule can be found on the website to plan a visit when it is in the neighbourhood. “If there is say, a birthday coming up, parents can also book a slot in advance to arrange a visit from the van so that children can enjoy a reading party,” Gupta says.

The van’s design has been custom-made keeping the age range of the clientele in mind. The lowest rack has children’s books, ranging from Enid Blyton to Amar Chitra Katha. The one above has fiction titles. The topmost has inspirational and motivational books. The coffee table books are kept inside the van. “Those and activity books are only for sale, no lending.” About 2,000-2,500 books can be kept on display. “We change the titles on the racks from time to time.”

They also accept donations of second hand children’s titles. “We gift such donated books to under-privleged children.”

He is confident that the model would succeed. “We also sell books online. So we know selling low-cost titles is not feasible online. The delivery cost comes to Rs 80, another Rs 5 goes in packaging, there is 13 per cent commission to be paid to the portal on which the book is being sold and the reader also expects a discount. All this is not possible if the retail price is say, Rs 100 or less. But to buy a high value book for a child, the parents prefer to check the contents of the book. So they prefer to visit a store.”

The book library was opened by Hidco managing director Debashis Sen. “I asked them to keep Hindi and Bengali books too other than English as the Eco Park crowd is a mixed one. They will park alternatively near gates 1, 3, 4 and 6 to see where they get the best response,” Sen said.

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Last updated on 13.05.22, 10:09 AM

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