Bookstore sees boom post-lockdown

Decade-old Aakruti Books, run by ex-techie, is witnessing a dramatic revival after months of low sales
Last Updated 17 August 2021, 07:06 IST

Guruprasad D N quit his job as a software engineer and began Aakruti Books in 2010. Located in Rajajinagar, today the store has created a small community around it with an avid following.

He says, “Why I started it is a tough question, but I’ve always had a passion towards literature.” The store is known for its collection of both used and new Kannada and English literature.

His wife, Subha, gave him the courage to take the plunge and start a bookstore, he says.

“She was also working as a software engineer, so we were comfortably placed. Her support helped me start Aakruti,” he says.

It is also a Kannada publishing house. “The Kannada literature ecosystem is quite small, if you look at it publishers have bookstores and vice versa. It seemed like a natural decision,” he explains.

They publish a variety of genres and both function and non fiction books. “I tend to focus on books that cater to progressive politics,” he says.

He finds emerging authors by scouring literary magazines and supplements. “Authors approach us as well and since the Kannada writing community is small most of our work happens through word-of-mouth,” he says.

Creating a community around the store was a conscious decision and one that makes people keep coming back. “Since our inception, we have held literary events once or twice a month. We have film screenings and even discussions around political happenings,” he says.

Another thing that draws people to the store is Guruprasad’s knowledge of books and there are laurels online about the same. “I read whatever I can and always have. I also have a keen interest in the publishing industry, not just Kannada but all other regional languages,” he says.

His curation of books is another attraction. “Bengaluru has a unique system of curation. There are booksellers who visit houses and scrap stores looking for old books. They in turn sell to bookstores like us. We also have a buy back policy from our customers,” he says.

He explains that their collection of old editions, first copies and signed copies have given them an edge over competitors like Amazon. “We don’t have such resources but unique editions are what allows independent bookstores to stay afloat till today,” he says.

The lockdown was a time of zero sales, he says. “Our landlord was supportive and delayed collection of rent. This helped us stay open,” he says.

Once things started opening up there was a sudden rise in demand for books, he observes.

“It was higher than the pre-pandemic numbers. Perhaps it was because people were without books for so long,” he says.

He says that the pattern of buying has changed since Covid. “People have stopped visiting stores as often as they used to but they are still buying books and having it delivered through services like Dunzo and courier,” he says. While they don’t have a website, they are active on Whatsapp, Facebook and Twitter. “I announce the new books that have arrived and interact with our patrons there. We get a lot of book requests and orders from social media as well,” he says.

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(Published 01 January 2021, 18:55 IST)

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