The Books -En-Amee Pumps up reading habit of people in Patna
Situated neatly in a tranquil corner on Boring Road in Patna, The Books-En-Amee is a bookstore where people still find the culture of library quite alive and kicking. Atmanand Das, proprietor narrates to Jyaneswar Laishram about the origin and operation of his proverbial bookshop cum library in an amicable chat on a fine evening. What makes The Book-En- Amee different from any other bookshops around Patna is not its appearance but the activities it has been engaging to boost reading habits of people in the city. And the man architect behind the making of this model is as modest as the bookshop itself. Cool, soft spoken Atmanand Das boasts of what The Book-En-Amee has achieved as its stature today, which he defines to be escalated from nowhere.
Atmanand DasAround 40 years back, when young Atmanand moved from Kishanganj town to Patna, he was least concerned about opening a bookshop. When he was stuck on a career crossroad right after the completion of his studies, thinking of a next move; then it was his elder brother who glided down to guide him to a right direction. “Atmanand, what are you planning to do in life?” once his literature-centric brother enquired. His straight answer echoed something related to clothes business. Showing a frown of dismay, his brother pleaded him to open a bookshop that could sustain benefits for generations to come.
Atmanand plunged into his brother’s advice and The Book-En-Amee was launched! After certain ups and downs in business, a big turning point took place in the year 2005 when the bookstore introduced a library in the name of Book Club, for which readers were requested to donate their old books as the first step of inception. Books worth Rs 3 lakhs were collected. “We charge Rs 500 as membership fee, half of which (Rs 250) is refundable, with Rs 75 as monthly borrowing charge,” explains Atmanand. Eventually the model worked! The Book Club has more than 2,000 members today and people keep donating books.
Thus, some of the best books available in the Book Club of The Book-En-Amee came through donations. The collection comprises popular bestsellers, from both Indian and international authors, such as Amitav Ghosh, William Darlymple, Salman Rushdie, Sri Aurobindo, among many others. Apart from the collection in the Book Club, around 20,000 books are shelved in the bookstore. The titles covering various topics including pregnancy, pets, games, encyclopaedias, etc. “We also keep preschool books to attract young readers,” mentions Atmanand.
Book Club may come into a new avatar soon as Atmanand is planning to construct a reading corner as part of the club where people can sit and read all day long or wherever they wish to do A unique characteristic feature of The Book-En-Amee is that this bookshop is a landmark corner where renowned Indian authors drop in to read their books and share light moments with their fans around the city. By the time you read this article, author Amish Tripathi of Shiva Trilogy fame might have turned up at the bookstore to greet Atmanand.
Atmanand feels the greatest reward he has achieved by opening The Book- En-Amee and Book Club is that he could somehow propagate knowledge as well as spirit of reading to the people in Patna. As a next-level move, he plans to request all club members to donate at least one book to multiply the collection. He proclaims that it will not only increase the number of books in the club, but also provide an opportunity for readers to exchange new reads. Kudos to this noble cause!