For meaningful exchange

For meaningful exchange

Book delight

For meaningful exchange

Reading is no longer confined to a quiet nook of a library or your study, and books are quickly becoming a way to meet new people for Bengalureans.

While book clubs and book meetups have their own offerings for bibliophiles, swapping the titles you loved reading adds a personal touch to the interaction.

Prasun Jain, product manager at an online classifieds site, began borrowing books from his hostel mates while in college eight years ago. In this informal setup, very often, instead of simply returning a book, he would let his friends pick one from his collection.

“Both books and this habit of exchanging them have stuck with me post college,” says Prasun, who developed the free Android book swapping app barter.li. “We used to have frequent meetups when I focussed on this full time, usually at Atta Galatta. But with my new job, I haven’t been able to initiate one recently.”

“I continue doing it informally,” he adds. “Right now, I’m reading a book titled ‘Parallel Worlds’ (by Michio Kaku) that I got from my colleague. But I think it’s time to get people together for another meet.”

At book swapping gatherings, he says, you get to meet people you probably never do otherwise — people from across age groups and different walks of life.

“Once, I bartered books with a really old woman who had put together this book by sticking comic strips from newspapers,” he recalls.

The strips spanned two decades and the book has found a place among the copies Prasun treasures most.

Like Prasun, Ravi Menezes is as involved with book swapping as he is with providing a platform for it at his bookstore. The owner of Goobes Republic on Church Street has a “weakness for science fiction” right now, and sometimes, the titles that customers bring in go into his personal collection.

“Many customers have also become friends over the years and we often visit each other. Some of them have moved to other countries, but we still exchange books over (snail) mail, even if it takes two or three weeks to get delivered,” he says.

Most recently, he has traded a few cyberpunk books for William Gibson’s ‘Neuromancer’, another title that belongs to the sci-fi sub-genre. “Anyone who reads will understand this obsession to share the books they enjoyed,” says the book-lover who makes it through one to three books a week.

This urge to pass on good books has got Shreya M, a college student, to try out book swapping with a twist. “I’ve always liked giving books away after I’ve read them,” says the 20-year-old.

So instead of simply gifting her friend a book for her birthday three months ago, she gave her one with a note inside, asking the friend to pass it on if she liked it. “So that hopefully, the book could travel the world,” she explains. “But my friend didn’t want to give her gift away.”

Unfazed, however, Shreya left her copy of ‘Harry Potter and the Cursed Child’, with an inscription of her own, at a book donation stand recently. “And I plan to start giving out more books with inscriptions to friends as well as random people.” After all, what better way to start a conversation than with a book?

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