Niyogi Books opens a Signature Bookstore in Kolkata

Browsing books in a bookstore generally has a very calming effect, while discovering a new book has an exhilarating effect. With so many brick-and-mortar shops shutting down, it is a delight to know that Niyogi Books is opening a signature store in Kolkata. Here, Trisha De Niyogi of Niyogi Books shares more about the new bookshop in conversation with Varsha Verma.

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On one hand, many brick-and-mortar shops might be shutting down, on the other new bookstores are also opening; some as extensions to the existing bookstore, while others are built completely from scratch. But, the bottom line is that, the bookstore business is thriving in India. Why? “This is because, despite the deep discounts and doorstep delivery, an algorithm has not been able to replace the experience of curated selections and charming ambience of the bookstores,” explains Trisha De Niyogi of Niyogi Books.

“Each of these bookstores has identified and curated the experience they would like to provide to people who come with a purpose or not. Some can boast about their human touch, some talk about their historic real estate, while others integrate with cafes, art galleries, libraries or a space for literary as well as cultural activities; in every case, bookstores have learned to adapt with competition and re-invent themselves,” she adds as a matter of fact.

“I also believe that readers have an inherent desire for instant gratification of their curiosity and to act upon the pleasure principle, which is the driving force that compels them to gratify their desire for knowledge enhancement. Thus, we can say we have a forward-looking future for physical bookstores in India,” tells Trisha.

Niyogi Books Bookstore…

Trisha De Niyogi
Trisha De Niyogi

Niyogi Books bookstore is an island of books, overlooking College Street through the windows in the classic Bengali style, yet cut out from the noise of the street, where one can browse through our books and get lost in their own world.

“The bookstore, which is being inaugurated on August 24, 2018 at College Street, Kolkata, is our ‘Signature Store,’ wherein we will be exclusively displaying and selling all our books – from the first to the latest. Even though, through forward integration, many a publishers have ventured into the charming concept of a bookstore, it might be interesting to note that ours is perhaps the only ‘signature book store’ in the country. The concept of signature stores is a new phenomenon in India,” tells Trisha.

“From a cultural point of view, located in the heart of the book district of the city, we would like it to be the social centre, wherein people can drop in, sit, relax and browse through what is new amongst the pages; discuss and even pick up a copy or two. What we want to give through this space is a calm and soothing environment for book lovers, to fulfill the tsundoku in them,” she adds.

From business point of view, the bookstore will also double up as their sales centre for the East zone. “This store will also act as a showroom for all our books for our distributors, dealers, retailers and booksellers alike. In the time when visibility as well as discoverability of books is a challenge, we believe this store could help us overcome a challenge, at least partially,” explains Trisha.

Why Kolkata?

“We were frequently asked at the Kolkata International Book Fair if we have a bookstore in College Street as it is at the very heart of literary activities in the city of Kolkata. It is India’s largest book market, lending it the endearing sobriquet of Boi Para or ‘Book Town’. But, to book lovers; it is more so like the ‘Mecca of books’. It is also the place where the publisher, Bikash De Niyogi, holds special memories. In fact, it may not be wrong to say, that it all began there,” tells Trisha.

“Thus, despite Delhi having the highest density of English language publishers in the country, we believed College Street to be an ideal location for our first ‘Signature Store’; an auspicious beginning to our retailing activities,” she adds.

The books galore…

Niyogi Books now has more than 500 titles under its belt of varying shape and size, genre and subject. Some of their bestselling illustrated titles include Forgotten Palaces of Calcutta by Joanne Taylor, Words of the Master of Rabindranath Tagore, Tibetan Art by Lokesh Chandra, PC Sorcar: The Maharaja of Magic by PC Sorcar (Jr), Pahari Masters: Court Painters of Northern India by BN Goswamy and Eberhard Fischer, Lost Addresses: A Memoir of India 1934-1955 by Krishna Bose, Mapping India by Manoshi Lahiri and many more.

“At the bookshop, we will also be give special emphasis to our newly launched imprints, Olive Turtle, Thornbird and Paper Missile. As a matter of fact, through this bookstore, we would like to throw light on the exclusivity of these books which might get lost in the layers of distribution. This bookstore, will in turn, also help us increase our visibility through our existing channels of distribution,” tells Trisha.

Book lovers’ paradise…

Since Niyogi Books has a varied frontlist, they are expecting readers from the age group of 13-113 years. “This is because when we choose a topic, research is done in such a manner, so that experts of the subject get something new from it and find it worth a recommendation for students (of any age) of the same subject, but at the same time, an average reader discovers a new world in it. Our focus, as a result, extends to various age groups, occupations, lifestyle and even locations,” tells Trisha.

On competition with online bookstores…

“At a time when Amazon.com is also extending itself to a physical store, we must try to move away from the thought that online bookstores are actually our competitors.At our store, we want the readers to find books which pique their curiosity, whether they buy at that very moment or through the online booksellers, we are content, till our books are considered worth picking up and reading/gifting/adding to a library,” tells Trisha.

On ebooks…

There are three types of readers – those who read print books only, those who read both print and ebooks and those who read only ebooks. According to Trisha, they would like to increase the visibility of their books to all three kinds or readers. “Once the reader finds the book of choice, acquisition in either of the form is a boost to our book. Hence, our bookstore is not threatened by eBooks. In fact, a full display of our books under one roof increases sales in both formats.Thus, it is a win-win situation for us,” she shares.

Roapmap for future…

“We would like to place the books directly into the hands of the readers who’ll love them. For reading & learning is, as it ought to be, more sentimental than simply didactic. We are taking baby steps as of now. In January, we launched three new imprints and now a new store. As of now, we would like to consolidate what we have started,” concludes Trisha.

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