“The decline in the book industry has stabilised and it is now bound to grow,”

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shares Ajay Mago, publisher, Om Books International in conversation with ABP editors Varsha Verma and Shweta Khurana.

Ajay Mago, publisher, Om Books InternationalOm Book Shop has opened up a new sprawling facility in Chennai. With so many brick-and-mortar bookshops coming down, it comes as not just a pleasing surprise but also confirms the fact that reading is still one of the most favourite pastime and book trade is not coming down in near future. ABP recently met Ajay Mago, publisher, Om Books International, to know more about this new bookstore and the trends in the segment. Excerpts.

Online vs. offline bookstores…

“The digital downtrend has begun and printed books are catching up again. It is a fact that 10-12 years back, it was a golden period for book industry. The margins were better and people were buying more. But, many people made mistakes by opening very big-sized bookshops and at a very rapid pace. With changing times, the survival for them became difficult and any bookshops had to shut down,” shares Ajay

“But, Om Books, as a family business, focused on a different model. We grew at a slow pace – one store in two years. In 2008- 09, online buying became very popular and we just observed the market at that time. Today, the market is more mature. People are buying books through both online and offline channels. Mostly online buying is done by corporates and by retail customers who know which book to buy. But, a genuine book lover still goes to the bookstore, to browse through books and pick what he likes,” he adds. Talking about the discounts offered by online channels, Ajay shares that the discounts have come down from 50% to 24-40%, which is a good sign.

On Chennai bookstore…

Om Books has started a new store in Chennai, after a successful book store in Bangalore. “The book store in Chennai is a 4,000 sq ft facility at Phoenix Mall. We have stocked 95% books and 5% stationery items. Our bookstores houses 20,000-50,000 titles, depending upon the size of the bookstore,” tells Ajay.

What’s more? On an average they stock books from 5000- 7000 publishers, including local publishers where the store is located.

Talking about the major genres of books seeked by customers, Ajay shares that children, business, self-help, current affairs, biographies and fiction are much sought after. “The crowd at the book store is young IT professionals and higher-income middle class families,” adds Ajay.

More on the cards…

And Om Books is not resting on its laurels, they are now planning to open a book store in Noida and then in Mumbai. They are also exploring other cities like Kolkata for opening up new bookstores.

Om Books International, their publishing arm, is bringing out many quality books, more so in children books and biographies. “Every year, we publish around 230-300 titles. As of now, we have around 2000 titles on our list,” he shares. “The future for books seems to be bright as the decline has stabilized in the industry,” concludes Ajay optimistically.

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