Bookstores turn to delivery apps to up sales
About five months after they were allowed to reopen, bookstore owners in the city are looking at ways to get people back. While some store owners remain optimistic and say that business is picking up, others say that it has been “up and down”.
Mayi Gowda, owner of Blossom Book House at Church Street, which reopened on May 4, has observed an uptick in customers over the last fortnight. “The number of walk-ins is at 60% — the majority being regular customers — of what it was before the pandemic. One reason is that post-Unlock 4, nearly everything is open and so more people are out. The other is that people have been sitting at home for such a long time so now they want to step out,” he said.
While children’s books always sell, he noted that new releases are also in demand now as most people have finished reading the books they had at home. Customers have also been getting books delivered for months now via delivery apps. Blossom, for instance, has tied up with Dunzo to deliver books to customers, and provides about 800 titles that are sold at full price.
As for whether the number of deliveries has come down with walk-ins going up, Mr Mayi Gowda says, “Some people still have that fear of being out so deliveries are also going on. We get about 12 to 15 orders in a day.” He adds that they also get 10 to 12 orders a day from across India such as Madhya Pradesh and Kerala.
Lightroom Book Store, Cooke Town, which caters to children and young adults, gets orders within the city — via delivery apps or the store sends couriers — as well as from outside Bengaluru. “We got on Instagram only in February this year and that has resulted in orders from a lot of new people and orders from places such as Nagaland and Assam. We send packages out every day,” said owner Aashti Mudnani.
Stating that it’s difficult to pinpoint the number of orders the store gets every day, she said, “This whole week has been good and we sold 10 books a day. But last week, business was slow with only three sales a day.”
As for the walk-ins, Ms. Mudnani says, “From the time we reopened on April 27, we have had two or three walk-ins a day. I think it’s a lot to do with the fact that we are located in a residential area. Initially, people would come without children, but now I see that more and parents bring their children.”
Nagasri Book House, which is located in Jayanagar BDA Complex, reopened on June 3. Guru Prasad, who, along with Venkatesh K.V., owns the store said that business had been very good in June when they reopened. “But afterwards it came down. Now, business is 50% to 60% of what it was pre-pandemic and it’s only given by regular customers.”
Krishna Gowda, owner of Bookworm on Church Street, which opened on April 25, said that the walk-ins are at a maximum of 40% compared to pre-pandemic. “But we were sending books via delivery apps even during the lockdown and that has continued. Regular customers with elderly people or children at home tell us their requests and we send their orders.”
He added, “While it’s mostly been regulars, one positive point is that a lot of new customers have been calling us, particularly youngsters. It looks like they developed a reading habit during the lockdown. We have also seen a fantastic response on Twitter.”