“Bookman” is a door-step delivery modern library that delivers books, music and movies, for all age groups anywhere in Ahmedabad. It is established by a college student – Nilambari Solanki with the objective of investing the profits from this venture into education of under-privileged kids. The Ahmedabad Blog connected with Nilambari Solanki to understand her venture better and get insights into the reading trends in Ahmedabad. Here is an excerpt of the interview:
How did the idea of BookMan come up? What is the significance of the name?
Let me show you something before telling you about BookMan.
Research has shown that up to 25% of US adults read at the lowest literacy level. 1 in 5 adults is functionally illiterate. 60% of America’s inmates are illiterate and 85% of all juvenile delinquents are illiterate. 75% of unemployed adults in this country experience difficulty reading or writing. These statistics indicate a direct connection between reading and success and may lead to economic and social failure. I use the data of the US to show how the scenario is in the most developed countries.
This therefore successfully shows that reading is indeed directly proportional to not only academic success but also in life. I got the opportunity to understand this at a very early age because of my reading. My love for reading developed when I was in 6th grade. And it changed my life forever. So, when I faced the problem of financial, project and organizational sustainability in my experiences with NGO’s and social organisations, I saw the opportunity of converting and sharing what changed my life into a self-sustainable model that generates finances and resources to create a platform of continuous and consistent evolution of actions to achieve the aim of making knowledge accessible as an effort to solve the problems of the world at the grass root level. This is how the idea of BookMan came up. The name is significant because we are changing the concept of Library in totality. We are creating the best reading experiences and one of the ways we bring innovation on the table is by providing door step delivery to enable people to read in this ultra-busy-lifestyles of 21st century. And therefore, just like Post-Man, we created the concept of Book-Man.
2. Why did you decide to set up your business in Ahmedabad? When did you launch your business?
I have lived in a lot of different places since my childhood. The minute I settle into a new city, it’s time for me to move as my dad was abroad and therefore we moved a lot. Ahmedabad is the only place that I have ever felt like my home. And what other best way to launch my business than my home? And therefore, me and my team decided Ahmedabad not only because of how I feel here but also at the tremendous business potential that this place provides. I launched my business here on 12th March, 2012.
3. What type of reading experience did you want people to have? What makes your business unique?
BookMan is changing the way people perceive the concept of reading. We get Chinise at the laaris(road-stalls) and also at Hyatt. The difference and the reason why people will always prefer Hyatt is because it makes eating an experience in itself. This is exactly what we are doing and what makes us unique. We understand and therefore value Reading in itself. And this knowledge enables us to convert and create an entirely different concept of Reading. We are making “Reading”, -an experience in itself. This is what makes us unique. We want people to understand why is Reading important for Growth and Development. Books can be provided by anyone. But the art of converting people who “just read” to people who are “growing and developing in life by reading” is what defines the reading experience that we want people to have. Our entire business model and plans are based and runs on this.
4. Since you are based out of Ahmedabad, any reading trends you see that are specific to Ahmedabad?
The only trend which is awesome that I have found in Ahmedabad is that you will find every sort of trend here. My experiences with different places is that usually people restrict themselves to one genre and never go beyond. But Ahmedabad, astonishingly gives me the experience of finding every sort of trend here, people read “Chetan Bhagat” to “Richard Dawkins”. I have met people who have introduced me to authors that even I never knew existed. So, there would be no specific trends here except this being the only place where you can find everything and anything which is really unique.
5. Which books are the most popular in Ahmedabad?
Well, this is a question that involves a lot of variables. Because, you see I have the best possible and the most elite clientele of the city. Therefore, I see a lot of different genres being the popular books in Ahmedabad which again depends on the variable of time. I remember the time when all my BookMan Members went crazy after “Fifty Shades of Grey” Series. And at the same time, “Casual Vacany” by J.K.Rowling which was popular everywhere wasn’t even issued once by any of my members here. Though, it would be safe to say that Indian Contemporary Authors, the general bestselling authors of all times- Jeffrey Archer, Sidney Sheldon, John Grisham are the most popular in Ahmedabad.
6. What are the challenges that you faced? How has your journey been so far?
I started my own Business at the age of 20. So to be very honest, the most initial, in fact the problem which I still face is to bring trust and credibility to my age and the brand “BookMan”. This might sound very funny, but this is a fact that my first five minutes always go in convincing people that the library which crossed its first million in the first year itself by crossing 450 members is run by a now 21 year old. India was not a country where the young entrepreneurs were accepted gracefully in the market and society. Instead of supporting and guiding the young, the more experienced people have always found it more important to ascertain that 20-year-olds cannot run a business. The only difficulty thus I think I faced and still face is that “My age as a fact is considered more important than my work in action”. But my work in action, ie BookMan Main Library at Vijay Crossroads having more than 600 members in just 1.5 years, my library at Sports Club along with various other Library Setups and branches that I am working on should speak for how my journey has been so far. It has been absolutely phenomenal and a life-changing experience in itself. It’s one of those experiences of life which can never be expressed in words and can only be understood when one lives it. It’s beautiful.
7. One reason why every Amdavadi should visit BookMan
We are making “Reading”, -an experience in itself. Books can be provided by anyone. But the art of changing your life by converting people who “just read” to people who are “growing and developing in life by reading” and therefore are more successful and happy is the reason why every Amadavadi should visit BookMan. . Come not just because you love books, but for growth and development and for the great personalities. Reading changed my life forever. If you want your life to be changed forever, you know where to come.
8. One tip for Amdavadi Entrepreneurs
The big things are obvious. Pay attention to the details. Business is like a puzzle. You just have to make sure your pieces fit together. Be true to your real self. Be yourself. Do what you love. Be the first cause. Have no expectations. Become aware. Grow. Make the choice. Just do your karma. Be brave. Follow your heart. Be awesome.
Visit BookMan Today:
Fire station road,
Vijay Crss road,
Number: 9537577222 / 9537599222