Sahitya Akademi Metro BookShops
–An assortment of Indian Literature for moving India
Over the years of its dynamic existence, Sahitya Akademi has ceaselessly endeavored to promote good taste and healthy reading habits, to keep Indian literature flourishing. And now opening up of book shops in Delhi Metro stations is a continuation of same trend. Dr. K. Sreenivasa Rao, Secretary, Sahitya Akademi (SA) in conversation with Smita Dwivedi shares his views on these signature bookshops outside their premises.
As part of a joint initiative by DMRC and Sahitya Akademi, the Akademi has opened two bookshops in Delhi Metro premises at the Vishwavidyalaya Metro station and Kashmere Gate Metro station. With bookstores at metro stations, now daily commuters can literary experience the regional literature along with wide array of English and Hindi language books published by Sahitya Akademi. Elaborating about the same, he added, “We started in 2014 with our first ever bookshop outside Sahitya Akademi premises at Kashmere Gate Metro station. In all our centers we have small bookshops everywhere, where we sell only our own publications. It was the policy from the beginning to promote Indian literature. So, we decided to expand our reach by offering books to people…on their way.”
Booked for more
The idea of this initiative is to promote the Indian literature by providing quality books in Indian languages and also to cultivate reading habits among Metro commuters, especially youth, which was one of the main reasons for choosing these two locations. “Right now, we are having two bookshops in Delhi. Since the response is good, we are now collaborating with Delhi Metro Rail Corporation to open a bookstore at three more metro stations — Rajiv Chowk, Noida and Gurgaon, all of which have huge footfall every day,” he added. “Besides, we are planning to open a new bookshop in Bangalore Metro. The Bangalore Metro Authority has already approved our plans; we just have to finalize location.”
Rao also shared plans to open a reading library next to its bookstore at the Kashmere Gate Metro Station. “We have asked the DMRC to provide the Akademi with space next to the bookstore at the Kashmere Gate Metro Station. Open space will encourage people to read and will inculcate reading culture. The Akademi will maintain the library once the required space is approved. Our books should reach to the public, for that we need some space. Having reading room for commuters will be an advantage, as in between their catch up time, they can spend some time with books.”
One stop solution
These bookshops are also serving as platform between genuine book buyers and Akademi. On asking about book sales, he elaborated, “We sell mainly English and Hindi books, but we have also displayed few regional books. Moreover, we have a book attendant there, who serves as a bridge between good book and its buyer. If somebody wants some regional book, our attendant will direct them to our offices, where these books are available. So they can come to collect the book or they may order it and we deliver it to them. We publish in 24 languages and over 600 new books are published every year, but we cannot display all the books at the store.”
Views on book business & online selling
Representing a Government organization for promotion of literature, he feels profitability is not the main criterion for them. “We believe all books are best books. And there is no harm in selling books online, if it increases the readership. Ours is very specialized segment and we only deal with special literature, moreover our books are always underpriced. We don’t make any profits out of it. Our books are competitively priced as compared to other private publishers.”
He also shared an important viewpoint on Uniform Pricing Policy in book publishing industry, “Private publishers have their own pricing policy. In India, we don’t have uniform pricing policy, which is again a debatable point. But I think it is required. If that comes, I think it will good for publishing industry,” he said.
Rao personally feels that our country’s youth is a biggest boon as well as bane to Indian literature. So, we have to encourage children from the school level to read books and appreciate Indian literature. “I strongly feel that unless we start reading good literature from childhood, we cannot appreciate words in future also,” he shared.
For inculcating readership, Sahitya Akademi has started a concept of GRAMMIN LOK, which means literature is going to villages, to find bright talent. “We want to reach to each and every village, as they are important to mainstream literature. We have to target youth and bring them back to reading. We participate in almost all every book fair organized in India. Last year, we participated in 180 book fairs and also participated in 200 programs. Now we are also trying to organise our book fairs at villages and taluka levels. We are also planning to increase our number of shops and open public reading rooms and small libraries in transit metro stations, in Delhi,” he told.
A good book has to be shared with the general reader. With this in mind, they recently started book launches and discussions. “It is not easy to organize book launches of over 600 books, which we publish annually, nevertheless, we do promote few good books. We involve scholars in it; they review it to have a discussion with the audience,” told Rao.
“Besides, we also organized 681 programs last year that means almost every 14 hours we have one program. We published 680 books last year, which is also one book every 14 hours. Our workshops and literary gathering.” he added.
On a concluding note he shared, Sahitya Akademi plans to increase annual number of book published to 1000 best books in a year. He also appealed to Indian youth to come forward and join hands with them for taking Indian literature to newer heights.