“Curriculum books are not seasonal”

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says Rajiv Jain of Delta Stationery in conversation with Varsha Verma.

Rajeev Jain (right) with his son Abhishek. Established in the year 1988 as a stationery shop, Delta Stationery has established itself as one of the busiest and most sought after bookshop for curriculum books for schools, colleges and universities. Started as a humble set-up for stationery needs by Rajiv Jain, the bookshop has come a really long way. “When we started the stationery shop in Atta area, the main market for Noida residents, there was no bookshop in the city. Seeing the demand for books, we started the bookshop in the same place in between 1992-93. By 1997, we started stocking school books for children and after seeing the demand for books at college level, we started selling books for BA and BCom courses. Gradually, we added books on engineering, medical, computers, management, etc,” told Rajiv. On asking about the number of titles they keep as of now, he proudly said that though it is difficult to confirm, but it would be around 70,000-80,000 titles.

Rajiv procures books through both distributors as well as publishers. He informed that only a few publishers have ‘return policy’, rest of the unsold books are their loss only adding, “We have a season throughout the year, barring two months – June and October when the demand is comparatively low. The average price of the books is Rs 100-350, though we have few books with a cover price of Rs 2,000 or more.”

On an average, we have 200-250 customers’ everyday, though the footfall is much higher than that and in the season time, there are as many as 400 customers a day,” he told. Rajiv is ably assisted by his father Sheel Vijay Jain and his son Abhishek Jain, who helps him whenever he gets time from his study. He has a fleet of 12 efficient salespersons, who know where each book is kept and how many books are left in the stock.

Seeing the expanse of the number of books he has, I asked him about any tie-ups with schools. Rajiv replied that they did tie up with 2-3 schools in the beginning but as they were made to pay a huge amount to the schools, they could not provide customary 10-30 percent discount to the students. “It was thus spoiling our image and we withdrew,” he added.

Since Rajiv has seen two generations of students coming to his shop, we asked him about the change in behavior of the students. “The behavior was polite earlier, but now they have too much of different attitude. Hence, the handling has become difficult. In fact, we need to go extra mile and be more polite to deal with them,” he replied. “The general age group coming to our stores is 18-25 years. For students’ up to 10th standard, parents normally pick up the books. The customers are not very price-sensitive for books till school level but for graduation and above, customers generally go for lower priced books.”

Rajiv himself is not very computer-savvy but he feels that e-learning will surely reduce the number of books sold but that may still take 5-6 years time.

“We are very strict about dedication and commitment and that’s what has sailed us through so many years. Customers are our priority and we procure books for them even if they are not in our stock,” he informed proudly.

On asking about their future plans, Rajiv replied that first thing they want to do is to computerize the inventories. “We are also planning to add general books to our portfolio. Besides, we are planning to shift to a bigger four-storey building in the posh Sector 18 market of Noida, where people can browse through the books and pick up what they like, just like the malls.” Shops in Indirapuram and Greater Noida are also on the cards. “We will go for branches only as we feel that the franchisee system may spoil the market,” concluded Rajiv.

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