Goobe’s bookstore heading for sad end?

Church Street hangout, which made reading affordable with a unique buy-or-borrow model, hits a rough patch

Goobe’s Book Republic, a store next to KC Das on Church Street, faces the prospect of shutting down.

The store is unique: it allows you to buy, sell and rent books.

Ravi Menezes, owner, says he created the store as a response to a problem he had noticed: many in Bengaluru who loved books couldn’t afford to buy them.

“I was a member of the Mecca Book House, a lending library off Commercial Street. I finished reading an entire section of books with a very reasonable amount of money,” he says.

The idea of accessing books without paying a fortune is what triggered the birth of Goobe’s in 2009.

He put out a post on social media on November 22, describing his problems.

“Books sell well but this wasn’t the best location for a library programme, as this is a commercial area. Libraries usually get a better response in residential areas. We have 300 members but we only see about 10 per cent coming regularly,” he later told Metrolife.

Goobe’s was doing well at a smaller location in Church Street; it moved to the current location four years ago.

“Our best business year was 2015-16, our seventh year. But after that a series of things hit us; demonetisation, road repair, GST and a general slowdown affected our business,” he says.

Lately, running the place has meant delayed payments to staff and rent. 

“We want to focus on providing corporate companies with a library service. We have two right now: Manipal Hospital and consulting firm Arcadis. If we get a few more clients like this, it should help us sustain the business,” Ravi says.

The store has on display about 20,000 books. “Our collection is focused on non-fiction, literature and science fiction. We don’t do best-selling titles as online platforms provide enough discounts on them,” says Menezes. 

Close to 70 per cent of the books sold at the store are second hand, while others are bought from publishers and dealers. “All books are accessible for renting or buying,” he says.

Talks and book discussions also take place at Goobe’s. “We hope such activities continue,” he says.

Ravi has kept December 31 as the deadline to decide on shutting down. “I’m hopeful that Bengaluru’s book lovers will come together to support us,” he says.

Deals at Goobe’s

Buying: On a purchase of Rs 500, you get 20 per cent off. 

Renting: A library membership (excluding deposit) starts at Rs 200 for a month for one book at a time.  

Donate: Goobe’s accepts book donations.

For details, call 40903806 or email goobesbookrepublic@gmail.com

Name

In Kannada, Goobe means owl. Menezes called the book store Goobe’s for the dualism the word represents.

“While some use ‘Goobe’ even as a cuss word, it refers to an intelligent bird. I used the word for the Yin and Yang,” he says.

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