Monday, September 29, 2008

Bringing books to people's doorsteps


45-year-old hardware engineer and entrepreneur Pankaj Kurulkar has launched his ambitious 'Books-on-Wheels' project here on Wednesday.
This is first of such projects in India where, to begin with, as many as ten mobile vans have been deployed at various vantage points of Mumbai, where book distribution mechanism is poor. These vans fulfill the dream of getting books at people's doorsteps free of cost.
In the next six months, Kurulkar plans to have 20 more vans in 27 districts of Maharashtra to sell books published in 22 Indian languages. If he succeeds in raising enough private equity, the project is expected to be launched nationwide in the same period.
Every mobile or Granthayan store has been fitted with a global positioning system and a satellite-linked point of sale software that will help Granthayan's 65-strong staff keep track of the position of the mobile bookstores, and help them keep a running track of sales made from any of the bookstores. Kurulkar also has a call centre where book lovers can call on 30 lines if they want a Granthayan store at their doorstep.
Speaking at the launch ceremony of Books-on-Wheels project, Kurulkar said: "Books are not reaching masses as expected. That's due to poor book distribution network. There are hardly any bookstores available at many places. There are 500-odd pizza outlets, but there are only 20-odd Marathi book stores in Mumbai. I wanted to fill this gap between demand and supply. Therefore I hit upon the idea of launching the Books-on-Wheels project. The project affords us tremendous advantage over conventional brick-and-mortar stores because it allows us to travel. We will reach youth with over 20,000 books in each van, who have never seen a bookstore in their lives."
Kurulkar also plans to create cultural shows that will be staged where his mobile vans are stationed. "We will stage poetry reading sessions, author- reader interactions, plays and other cultural events, so our customers get an experience beyond just the buying of books. We would also invite literary figures to participate," he said.
Kurulkar also plans to bring brilliant regional works into the mainstream and visit campuses and pick up students post-graduating in different languages and hire them to translate. He said 70 per cent of his stock would comprise of Marathi books while the remaining would be books in English.
In the next six months, Kurulkar plans to have 20 more vans in 27 districts of Maharashtra to sell books published in 22 Indian languages. If he succeeds in raising enough private equity, the project is expected to be launched nationwide in the same period. He has already set himself targets of growth – 100 mobile book shops in a year and 1,000 in three years, covering a majority of the states in the country.

Via: Publishers Post Source: merinews.com

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