Bookstore: a hub for intellectuals and professionals

As the name suggests, Kitab Khana is a melting pot of books of various genres, languages, authors and book lovers in Mumbai. Even in the age of online sales, the bookshop has carved a niche for itself. Here’s more on this bookstore.

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Established in February 2011, Kitab Khana is the brainchild of Amrita and Samir Somaiya and their love and passion for books, reading, literature, and spreading knowledge in the city. They have been involved in education for a long period and continue their contribution, without thinking purely of business profits, with the establishment of this bookstore – as a temple of knowledge-sharing.

The genesis…

“The store is not only a large (7000 Sqft only for books) and well-located space, but it is also very beautifully designed being in the heritage precinct of Mumbai; the store is also located in the most vital and prominent part of the city,” tells T. Jagath, founding and current Chief Operating Officer, Kitab Khana, whose longstanding experience in the book-selling market as well as good relationships with readers and buyers, as well as authors and publishers was a big boost to the store, and continues to be so.

Changes in the Industry in last 10 years…

“Bookshop business is no longer a stable one, many independent bookshops have opened, but some have also shutdown. The market of books is growing but the business of bookshops is uncertain and needs a lot of consistent and good hard work to keep a bookshop running,” he adds.

Experience in the industry…

“The bookshop becomes a hub for many intellectuals and professionals as a meeting place even beyond buying books. I really cherish a good and lifetime relationship with many readers, who come from various backgrounds of life, including the many celebrities, authors, well-established professionals, and intellectuals,” tells Jagath.

Impact of Covid-19…

“Social distancing and the fear of infection from surface contamination brings lesser people to the store; however, reading has become more popular in times of being quarantined and being home and people have shown interest in online as well as store purchase,” he adds.

Popular genres…

“Besides the regular interest in fiction and popular publications, non-fiction such as History, Politics, Art, and Popular Science are very much in demand,” tells Jagath. “We offer books in Marathi, Hindi, Gujarati, Urdu, as well as Sanskrit, besides English. We work with India Book Distributors and Prakash Book Distributors.”

Challenges faced…

“The biggest challenge is supply chain. Publishers are still largely based out of New Delhi and so getting most books to Mumbai can be a time-consuming process,” he shares.

Competition from online sale is healthy…

“As long as a bookstore gives good and personalised service, with informed staff knowledgeable about books and publications, people always prefer coming physically to a bookstore. People do buy online, but they do not stop coming to a bookstore, where they can browse and enjoy the atmosphere of a bookstore, where you can be in the company of many books as well as other readers. In fact Kitab Khana as a bookstore began when online book-sellers were on the rise and getting popular, still the store made a good mark and soon became a landmark in the city,” shares Jagath as a matter of fact.

USPs of Kitab Khana…

“Knowledgeable staff, aware of titles and authors, as well as popular prize-lists; personalised service; helping source difficult-to-get titles; discounts; congenial atmosphere where a variety of books are available from different subjects; and finally doing good events related to books and authors,” tells Jagath.

On a concluding note…

“Bookshops should be encouraged as readers and interest in books continues to grow against popular belief; with online book-selling platforms bookshops do not suffer as long as they plan the business and customer-relations well,” concludes Jagath.

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