We all love bookstores – young and old…children love to huddle at the children’s corner in any bookstore. How about a bookstore just for children with of course a corner for the grown-ups? After all, reading is all about pleasure and it is important to cater to all taste buds. Welcome to Eureka Bookstore, a bookstore for the young! Strategically located opposite the Don Bosco School in Alaknanda, New Delhi, with a host of other playschools and housing societies in the vicinity, Eureka bookstore is a place to be! Here one can find exclusive books for children…books children would love to pick and read!
So, how did the idea of coming up with a bookstore just for kids came up? “Well, me and my partner Swati Roy were once sitting over lunch and discovered that most of the bookstores have a little corner for kids (that was 8-9 years back!). And children are so curious by nature and wish to read. Also, we found that most of the bookstores have the routine Enid Blyton and Hardy Boys series of books, which are just the tip of the iceberg. So, we thought of setting up a bookstore exclusively for kids and thought of stocking books which other bookstores do not have. Thus Eureka was born,” tells Venkatesh, partner, Eureka Bookstore.
But, Swati and Venkatesh did a test marketing before they finally opened up their store. “There was a Durga Puja mela in Gurgaon in 2003. We took up a stall for three days and stocked up book on cash and no return basis. And we were pleasantly surprised…our books were totally sold out. It was a wonderful experience where children used to come and read and then buy books,” recalls Venkatesh.
In their early days, Eureka was run from a house in CR Park but since there were not many visitors to the store, they shifted their base to Alaknanda in November 2004 and since then, there is no looking back.
One look at the store and you will find numerous books vying for attention. There’s something for everyone, right from toddlers to children upto 12-13 years. “Infact, children grow with us. We have various books like fiction, do-it-yourself series and activities books,” tells Venkatesh. “The biggest movers are in the 8-11 years segment. Infact, the children in this age group are so aware that they know what they want to read and sometimes even suggest us some books to stock,” he adds. While, for very young children, parents come to pick up the books and so they also stock fiction for adults so that they can also pick up something to read.
Venkatesh also shares that parents are very careful about what their children read. Even with older children, parents often ask them if the book is right for his age. “Our staff is competent enough to guide them accordingly,” he adds.
On an average, the bookstore gets around 20 visitors a day while on weekends, they get around 50 visitors in a day. Besides, they also supply books to schools, book events, libraries, etc.
They give 10 percent discount on a regular basis while they offer 15 percent discount to their members who have their loyalty cards. The price range of the books is anything between Rs 10 and Rs 7,000, though the average price for fast moving books remains around Rs 200-250. Look at the store and you will find economical books from Pratham, Children Book Trust and National Book Trust as well.
The selection criteria…
‘We always wanted to stock books that no other bookstores keep. Initially, we used to go to the warehouses of distributors and publishers and pick up books we liked. Now, publishers are more aware and they send us their complete list. Also, since books have no boundaries now, we also stock many foreign books. Sometimes, children come to us and tell us that they saw a particular book at some airport and they would like to read it. We do satiate their thirst for such books,” tells Venkatesh proudly.
On asking about the availability of books in Hindi at their bookstore, Venkatesh replies that they do stock Hindi books but they need to be pushed very hard. “It is the same as it was with Indian authors 4-5 years back,” he recalls.
Activities at the bookstore...
“Earlier, we used to have small sessions like story-telling, art workshops etc at our bookstore. But, we realized that it is a small place and children need to have a bigger set-up, that’s when the idea of Bookaroo, a children’s literature festival clicked,” tells Venkatesh.
Though, Eureka still organizes events like author reading sessions, story-telling sessions etc once or twice a month, but such events are held at convenient locations.
“Bookaroo is a reality check on all global authors. The Bookaroo Trust was formed in 2008 and the first Bookaroo was held in November 2008. The 2012 edition of Bookaroo was the most successful one with over 14,000 children on each day of the event,” tells Venkatesh proudly. “We are also planning to take it to other cities. The next Bookaroo will be held in Srinagar from May 11-12, 2013 at DPS School. The Srinagar event is at a smaller scale with 20 authors/illustrators as against 70 authors/illustrators at the Delhi Bookaroo.”
“It is very encouraging that children read a lot. But, with the advent of online stores, people have started asking for more discounts, which young retailers like us cannot play with. Though, the ebookstores have affected the adult books more, the children bookstores are not that affected because parents still wish to see the books their child would read before buying it,” says Venkatesh.
Another grey area which Venkatesh feels is that Indian authors are not pushed by the publishers, due to which many good Indian authors go unnoticed.
On asking about their plans to open another Eureka Bookstore, Venkatesh replies, “We are open to the idea but we are looking for people who share the same passion for children books.”
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